Professor Xiaowei Lu, PhD and Associate Professor Ann Sutherland, PhD in the School of Medicine’s Department of Cell Biology were awarded a $2.6M 5 year R01 grant from the NIH to study how mechanical forces and mechanosensitive signaling regulate neural tube formation.
The neural tube is the embryonic precursor to the central nervous system. Neural tube defects (NTDs) are common birth defects affecting about 1 in every 1,000 births. The project leverages human NTD patient mutations, mouse models and state-of-the-art live imaging to gain a mechanistic understanding of how cells integrate mechanical forces and intra- and inter-cellular signaling in space and time during neural tube formation. Ultimately, this new knowledge will facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of human birth defects.