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



  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  
  Walterhouse lab



Recent Publications  
  Ahlgren, S.C. (2004). Molecular mechanisms in fetal alcohol syndrome: role of Shh signaling in Preedy, V.R., Watson, R.R., Comprehensive Handbook of Alcohol Related Pathology: 939-950. Elsevier Science Ltd..
  Ahlgren, S.C.; Vogt, P.K.; Bronner-Fraser, M. (2003). Excess FoxG1 causes overgrowth of the neural tube. Journal of Neurobiology: 337-349.
  Ahlgren, S.C., Thakur, V., Bronner-Fraser, M. (2002). Sonic hedgehog rescues neural crest from cel death induced by ethanol exposure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A.: 10476-10481.
  Ahlgren, S.C., Bronner-Fraser, M. (1999). Inhibition of Sonic hedgehog signaling in vivo results in craniofacial neural crest cell death. Current Biology: 1304-1314.



  Crown Family Scholar Developmental Biology