Dr. Michael B. O'Connor (Ph.D.)
Head, Genetics, Cell Biology and Development
Ordway Professor of Developmental Biology
Dr. O'Connor is Professor of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and College of Biological Sciences. In addition, he is the holder of the Ordway Chair in Developmental Biology. He received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Brown University and his Ph.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine. His postdoctoral studies were conducted in the laboratory of Welcome Bender at Harvard Medical School. Prior to moving to the University of Minnesota, Dr. O'Connor was Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the University of California-Irvine.
Molecular Genetics of Signal Transduction and Developmental Timing
During development of all multicellular organisms the identity, movements, and ultimate function of cells must be coordinated with those of their neighbors. How do cells sense that they are located on the top, bottom, front or back of an animal? How do cells differentiate into specialized tissues such as the gut and nervous system? How are these specialized tissues correctly wired and connected into a working animal, and what controls the timing of these processes? These are just a few of the key issues that developmental biologists would like to answer. In the last several decades work on model organisms such as fruit flies, amphibians, fish and mice has revealed a number of remarkable insights into these issues. To a large extent, it appears that many key developmental processes are guided by the release of highly conserved signaling molecules. These signals coordinate cellular development in time and space to achieve the wonderfully diverse set of specialized organs and marvelously adapted body plans that we see around us. We are interested in providing biochemical descriptions of how these signaling networks function, and how they have been adapted for different roles during development and evolution