Photo of Susan M. Dymecki,  MD, PhD

Susan M. Dymecki, MD, PhD

Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School
Phone: (617) 432-4812
Fax: (617) 432-7595

Susan M. Dymecki, MD, PhD

Harvard Medical School


  • Professor, Genetics, Harvard Medical School


Research Abstract

The step by step differentiation of embryonic cells into different types of neurons lays the foundation for our sensory responses, motor commands, and cognitive behaviors. Our research explores this exquisite differentiation program in mammals using a combination of genetic and molecular biological methods. While the generation of such neural diversity is a complex process culminating in the most sophisticated of wiring circuits, one simplifying approach is to start by tracking the migration and differentiation paths taken by specific sets of cells originating from primitive neuroectoderm. Towards this goal, our lab has pioneered genetic tools to study progenitor-progeny cell relationships in the mouse. We are now applying these tools in full to study development of those brainstem neurons (nuclei) which provide the chief input to the cerebellum, and which collectively are called the precerebellar system.

In addition to studying neural development, we have initiated genetic experiments to uncover more general determinants of tissue pattern. Using insertional mutagenesis, we have created mutant mouse stocks that exhibit developmental defects ranging from skeletal abnormalities to hair and thymic defects. We are currently using large-insert DNA clones that span the transgene insertions to identify the affected genes. Through this approach, we have identified a BMP receptor that is the physiologic transducer mediating the development of digit cartilages. Transcriptional regulation of this gene has proven to be interesting and may represent a driving force in the evolution of distal limb form.


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  • Espinosa-Medina I, Outin E, Picard CA, Chettouh Z, Dymecki S, Consalez GG, Coppola E, Brunet JF. Neurodevelopment. Parasympathetic ganglia derive from Schwann cell precursors. Science 2014; 345:87-90. PubMed
  • Hirsch MR, d'Autréaux F, Dymecki SM, Brunet JF, Goridis C. A Phox2b::FLPo transgenic mouse line suitable for intersectional genetics. Genesis 2013. PubMed
  • Dymecki SM, Ray RS, Kim JC. Mapping cell fate and function using recombinase-based intersectional strategies. Methods Enzymol 2010; 477:183-213. PubMed
  • Hunter NL, Dymecki SM. Molecularly and temporally separable lineages form the hindbrain roof plate and contribute differentially to the choroid plexus. Development 2007; 134:3449-60. PubMed
  • Dymecki SM, Kim JC. Molecular neuroanatomy's "Three Gs": a primer. Neuron 2007; 54:17-34. PubMed
  • Farago AF, Awatramani RB, Dymecki SM. Assembly of the brainstem cochlear nuclear complex is revealed by intersectional and subtractive genetic fate maps. Neuron 2006; 50:205-18. PubMed
  • Landsberg RL, Awatramani RB, Hunter NL, Farago AF, DiPietrantonio HJ, Rodriguez CI, Dymecki SM. Hindbrain rhombic lip is comprised of discrete progenitor cell populations allocated by Pax6. Neuron 2005; 48:933-47. PubMed