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.

2021 Submission Guidelines

Past Recipients

2020 Recipients


Georgios Tsissios
Graduate Student, Miami University of Ohio
Advisor: Katia Del Rio-Tsonis
Pleurodeles waltl: An Emerging Research Model to Expand the Regeneration Toolbox
Newts are one of the best vertebrate model systems to study regeneration since they can regenerate most body parts, even during adulthood. Despite this clear reason for utilizing newts, limitations, such as their complex life cycle and enormous genome size, make it difficult for the application of molecular genetics. The newt Pleurodeles waltl was recently introduced as a powerful model to overcome these limitations.  P. waltl can be easily bred in the laboratory and its genome has recently been sequenced. This grant will be used to generate, maintain and expand the first P. waltl colony in the United States. Additionally, we will generate a transgenic line for live monitoring of cell cycle dynamics during regeneration and development. Expanding P. waltl as a research model will provide us with insights about the regeneration process that were not possible before.                

Martin Estermann
Graduate Student, Monash University, Australia
Advisor: Craig A. Smith

Emu, the key to understand avian sex determination
Birds have the ZZ/ZW system: males are ZZ, while females are ZW. The exact genetic mechanism of avian sex determination has yet to be fully resolved. There are two main theories: a dominant female factor in the W chromosome or a dosage effect of a Z-linked testis gene. Most of the work in avian sex determination has been performed in the chicken, a specie where the W chromosome is completely degenerated, which makes it difficult to define the contribution of each chromosome in the gonadal differentiation. We will take advantage of the relative similar Z and W chromosome size and the smaller non autosomal regions and introduce the emu to the avian sex differentiation field. In this project we aim to perform transcriptomic analysis in emu gonads to analyse the emu gonadal differentiation process and identify the master gene that regulates sex determination in birds.

Natalia Shylo
Postdoctoral Fellow, Stowers Institute for Biomedical Research
Advisor: Paul Trainor
Early development in veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) through the lens of left-right patterningSquamates (lizards and snakes) represent the largest order of reptiles. However, little is known about the earliest events in their development, since at the time of oviposition most squamate embryos are well into organogenesis. Veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) embryos are, however, pre-gastrula at oviposition, making it possible to study early morphogenetic events in this clade. Left-right (L-R) patterning in reptiles has long been an enigma. The ancestral mode of L-R patterning in deuterostomes involves motile cilia in the L-R organizer. However, avian reptiles have lost motile cilia in their embryonic organizer, and break L-R symmetry through asymmetric cell movements. This project focuses on 1) determining the mechanisms of establishing L-R asymmetry and 2) developing embryo manipulation and genome editing tools in veiled chameleon. The broad purpose of this work is to provide the community with research organism for early reptile development, along with tools for molecular and genetic manipulation.

Last Updated on 11/09/2020