Departmental Focus

Scientists in the Department of Developmental Neurobiology investigate the fundamental processes that govern normal brain development and function. We believe that this information will provide unique opportunities for understanding and treating a range of diseases afflicting the nervous system including tumors, defects in hearing and vision as well as neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. Our goal to enhance novel clinical therapies is facilitated by fostering an interactive environment where researchers investigating fundamental aspects of nervous system development and function of neural circuits are juxtaposed to those engaged in clinical and translational research. Indeed, faculty in the department hold key leadership positions in two of the institutional Comprehensive Cancer Center Programs: the Neurobiology and Brain Tumor Program and the Developmental Biology and Solid Tumor Program; each recognized for its basic, translational and clinical research into tumors afflicting children. To further strengthen translational interactions and fundamental research, the department hosts two divisions, Brain Tumor Research and Neural Circuits and Behavior, whose research efforts are complimentalry to the goals of the CCC.

Current research includes studies of early cell fate decisions and control of brain growth, neuronal migration and synapse formation, analysis of the mechanisms responsible for synaptic plasticity, neural circuit function and animal behavior, investigations of the control of cell death and regeneration, examination of mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases, identification of genes involved in the formation and function of the retina, and elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying a range of tumors, including medulloblastoma, neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, ependymoma and glioma. These investigations are further leveraged by our use of multiple experimental platforms that range from comprehensive genomics and proteomics to advanced cellular and in vivo imaging and computational biology to derivation of novel genetic preclinical models of childhood diseases.

Department of Development Neurobiology



  • Suzanne Baker, PhD - Deciphering the pathogenesis and therapeutic vulnerabilities of pediatric high-grade glioma
  • Jay B. Bikoff, PhD - Exploring development and functional organization of neural circuits controlling movement
  • Xinwei Cao, PhD - Understanding neural progenitor cell regulation and the mechanisms and biological relevance of hypertranscription
  • Fabio Demontis, PhD - Defining mechanisms of skeletal muscle aging, protein homeostasis, and myokines
  • Michael A. Dyer, PhD - Examining the coordination of proliferation and differentiation during development and disease
  • Young-Goo Han, PhD - Understanding development and dysfunction of the human brain through the lens of the neural progenitor cell
  • Khaled Khairy, PhD - Using concise morphological representations for computational modeling of the physics and mechanics of biological structures across scales
  • Myriam Labelle, PhD - Understanding the role of platelets in cancer metastasis
  • Stephen C. Mack, PhD - Interrogating the biology of pediatric brain tumors and developing preclinical models for therapeutic development
  • James I. Morgan, PhD - Deciphering control of neuronal death and differentiation
  • Paul A. Northcott, PhD - Leveraging multi-omic bulk and single-cell approaches to decipher molecular landscapes and developmental origins of medulloblastoma
  • Jamy C. Peng, PhD - Searching for insights into normal and diseased stem cell behaviors
  • Junmin Peng, PhD - Using mass spectrometry-based proteomics, metabolomics and systems biology to understand human disease
  • Lindsay Schwarz, PhD - Exploring mechanisms of neuromodulatory circuit organization
  • David J. Solecki, PhD - Understanding the link between cell polarity signaling and neuronal differentiation during cerebellar development
  • Stanislav S. Zakharenko, MD, PhD - Investigating the neural circuits, synaptic function, and molecular mechanisms controlling learning and memory and their dysfunction in neuropsychiatric disease
  • Elizabeth A. Stewart, MD - Studying high risk pediatric solid tumors

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St. Jude investigators have the freedom to focus on making big discoveries, backed by extraordinary resources and support teams. We are always looking for highly motivated scientists and engineers with passion and talent to join us! 

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Contact us

Department of Developmental Neurobiology
MS 323
St. Jude Children Research Hospital

262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA
262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA