Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Cepko, Constance L.
Location Harvard University
Primary Field Cellular and Developmental Biology
Secondary Field Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
 Election Citation
is a developmental biologist who has made remarkable contributions to our understanding of how the vertebrate central nervous system develops, focusing on the retina as a particularly accessible tissue. She also created powerful retroviral techniques that have become the definitive approach to determining cell lineages.
 Research Interests
I am interested in the mechanisms that direct development of the central nervous system (CNS) of vertebrates. I have focused our studies on the retina, a relatively simple and well-characterized area of the CNS. My laboratory has used genomics approaches to examine gene expression during murine retinal development. We have further investigated the cellular specificity of expression patterns by performing in situ hybridization for over 1,000 genes with dynamic temporal patterns, and by performing gene profiling on single retinal cells. These studies led to the identification of many excellent candidate genes suspected to be important in retinal development and disease. To understand the function of genes identified in these and other screens we are using both gain-of-function and loss-of-function approaches (e.g., retroviral transduction, electroporation, RNAi, and knock-out mice). In vitro culture systems that mimic retinal development also have been developed and are being used to investigate the role of the environment. We have recently begun to study the mechanisms of the degeneration of photoreceptor cells in murine models of retinitus pigmentosa and macular degeneration. We are also studying how the pattern of photoreceptor distribution is determined early in development.

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