Dr. Lee Niswander completed her undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Colorado Boulder and her Master’s degree in Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She completed her Doctorate in Genetics at Case Western Reserve University and Post Doctorate fellowship in Developmental Biology at the University of California, San Francisco. She was formerly a faculty member at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and the Section Head of Developmental Biology in Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is currently the Chair of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado Boulder.
The Niswander lab investigates mouse models of embryonic development with the overarching goal of providing insights into fundamental developmental processes, major human birth defects and potential clinical therapies. Her multi-disciplinary studies investigate the interplay among genes, environment, and epigenetic mechanisms. Her studies over the years have provided a unique perspective on the molecular mechanisms that control the formation of the central and peripheral nervous system, as well as lung, limb, and neuromuscular development. Her lab developed time-lapse imaging methods to visualize and quantify the cell and tissue behaviors during embryonic morphogenesis. Current studies focus on the common and severe birth defect wherein the neural tube fails to close, resulting in neural tube defects (NTDs, such as spina bifida), and early neural progenitor specification and differentiation, defects which can lead to microcephaly and other neurological disorders.