CMRC Children's Memorial Research Center
Sara Ahlgren


Sara Ahlgren, Ph.D.
  Assistant Professor, Developmental Biology Program



2430 North Halsted St.
Room 421G
Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (773) 755-6386
Fax: (773) 755-6385


Education
Year Degree Institution
1993 Ph.D. University of California, San Francisco
1987 BA Wellesley College

Research Interests
Environmental exposures to teratogens often produce stereotypic birth defects, suggesting that they are interfereing with specfic developmental processes. One such teratogen, ethanol has multiple effects, including production of craniofacial abnormalities resulting from the loss of cranial neural crest cells, and mental retardation stemming from a loss and damage of neuronal cell types. We have begun to elicit the mechanisms which underlie neural crest and neural tube cell survival in normal and abnormal conditions, with a focus on the loss of cells observed when ethanol is present during development, and compare this to genetic conditions which produce similar phenotypes. In previous work we have demonstrated that one growth factor, Sonic hedgehog (Shh), is reduced when ethanol is present, we seek to further define the role that Shh plays in craniofacial and brain development in normal and teratogenic development, and expand these studies to determine how Shh interacts with other genes important in craniofacial development. We utilize two model systems, each with its own pros and cons, to perform our experiments. The zebrafish embryo is small, rapidly developing, and accessible to early manipulation of gene expression. The chick embryo is large, slower to develop and easier to precisely stage, and accessible to later manipulation of gene expression.

Lab Affiliations
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