SDB Emerging Research Organisms Grant

The Society for Developmental Biology Emerging Research Organisms Grant (Formerly Emerging Models Grant) was established in 2016 to fund projects aimed at developing techniques, approaches, community resources, collaborations, and new lines of research to study developmental mechanisms in non-traditional model systems.  The types of projects supported by SDB Emerging Research Organisms awards are those that would not be funded by a granting agency due to their preliminary nature.  The goal is to provide resources to promote investigations into new systems that will provide unique information that informs and extends our ideas about how developmental processes occur and are regulated.  Graduate student, postdoctoral fellow and faculty SDB members are all eligible.  Deadlines are December 1 and May 31.  (Please note, if two grants are awarded from the December 1 deadline, then we will not be taking applications for May 31. Therefore, we strongly advise you to submit your application by the December 1 deadline). In years in which the deadline falls on a weekend, applications will be accepted until 11:59 PM (ET) of the following Monday.

Submission Guidelines

2019 Recipients


Aaron Griffing Graduate Student, Marquette University
Advisor: Tony Gamble

The mourning gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris): An emerging model for vertebrate sexual development and evolution

Despite being well-characterized in a few taxa, sex determination and sexual differentiation are poorly understood in most animals, especially vertebrates. Unlike mammals, both male and female lizard embryos develop paired phalluses — large hemipenes in males and smaller hemiclitores in females. We have identified large, hemipenis-like organs which develop and persist in an all-female (parthenogenetic), clonal species of gecko, Lepidodactylus lugubris. By studying a parthenogentic species, we can control for the sex and genetic variation of embryos — all embryos are female and genetically identical to one another. We aim to fill major gaps in the collective knowledge of vertebrate sexual development by studying the relationship between hormone signaling, gonad development, and phallus development in a phylogenetic context.

Deirdre Lyons
Assistant Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD

A nudibranch model system for molluscan developmental biology and functional genomics
Nudibranchs are shell-less, uncoiled, gastropod molluscs with many interesting biological and behavioral features, for example the ability to sequester cnidarian nematocysts from their prey, the loss of adult shell production, and social behaviors like group hunting.  Yet, nudibranch development is not well-characterized, especially at a molecular level.  We work with the species Berghia stephanieae, because it is easy to rear, has a 2-month generation time, and produces many embryos.  The Emerging Models Grant will be used to generate a developmental transcriptome and a single-cell RNA seq atlas for key time points during Berghia development.  Along with our whole-genome sequencing project, these transcriptomic resources will establish Berghia as a genomically-enabled nudibranch. These resources will help us identify gene networks that control Berghia’s early spiralian embryonic program and post-embryonic processes, including symbiosis, shell-loss, and regeneration.  For more information visit us online and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Last Updated on 11/25/2019