Drew Noden
Professor of Embryology and Animal Development
Drew Noden




Department of Biomedical Sciences
5-010 Vet Research Tower
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-2703


Web Sites

Department Profile

Research Description

My research explores the development of vertebrate craniofacial muscles, blood vessels, and skeletal tissues. Our goal is to understand the interactions between precursor populations and their neighbors that may be important to the initiation and progression of cell differentiation and the morphogenesis of musculoskeletal complexes.

Each research project typically has two components. First, we prepare a biography of each progenitor cell population. This includes documenting the complete developmental history of each lineage using a combination of transplantation and viral infection strategies, and defining patterns of gene expression and protein synthesis using in situ hybridization, and immunocytochemistry. With this background, we probe the mechanisms underlying each developmental change by modifying signal generating or responding cells. This is done using electroporation or viral vectors to introduce novel genes into progenitor populations. Often this is combined with transplantation of identified precursors to novel locations.

At present I am focusing on myogenesis and have (1) identified the specific sites of origin of each muscle in the head and neck of the chick embryo, (2) catalogued the time of activation of several key myogenesis regulatory genes in eye, jaw, tongue, and trunk muscles, and (3) defined the time and locations of fast and slow myosin heavy chain synthesis for each head muscle. Transplantation analyses reveal that the myogenic signaling systems for head and trunk muscles share some but not all components. Primary trunk myoblasts are committed to synthesizing slow myosins initially, but head myoblasts are not and will synthesize whatever myosin is appropriate for their immediate surroundings.

Selected Publications

  • Noden, D.M., R.M.Marcucio, A-G. Borycki, C.P. Emerson, Jr. (1999) Differentiation of avial craniofacial meusles. I. Patterns of early regulatory gene expression and myosin heavy chain synthesis. Dev. Dynamics 216 96-112.
  • Ruberte, J., A. Carretero, M. Navarro, R.S. Marcucio, D.M. Noden (2003) Morphogenesis of blood vessels in avian cephalic muscles: spatial, temporal, and VEGF expression. Dev. Dynamics 227:470-83.
  • Borue, X. and D. M. Noden (2004) Normal and aberrant craniofacial myogenesis by grafted trunk somitic and segmental plate mesoderm. Development 131:3967-80.
  • Noden, D.M. and P.A. Trainor (2005) Relations and interactions between cranial mesoderm and neural crest populations. J. Anat. (in press).