Scott Holley, Ph.D. is a Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. He received his B.S. in Biology from Millsaps College and his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Chicago. His doctoral research with Dr. Chip Ferguson demonstrated that insects and vertebrates use the same genetic mechanism to pattern their embryonic dorsal-ventral axis, and he discovered that noggin is a Bmp inhibitor. He also originated the concept of facilitated morphogen diffusion as a mechanism for creating a morphogen gradient to pattern the early embryo. He was a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Nobel Laureate Dr. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard at the Max-Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany. As a postdoc, he began studying spinal column formation in the zebrafish and discovered the zebrafish segmentation clock which creates the initial repetitive pattern of the vertebrae. Genetic mutations affecting this mechanism cause spinal column defects such as scoliosis in zebrafish, mice and humans. He joined the faculty at Yale University in 2002. His lab continues to study the mechanisms of segmentation and body elongation during early spinal column development. The lab uses zebrafish as an experimental proxy to understand human spinal column development and human spinal column defects. His lab’s research has been funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the American Cancer Society, the National Science Foundation and the March of Dimes.
The Holley lab studies the systems developmental biology and biomechanics of spinal column development in zebrafish. The lab’s experimental approach is driven by the idea that quantitative in vivo analysis will lead to fundamental insights into the emergence of biological organization from the collective interaction of its constituent parts. The interdisciplinary research group combines in vivo biophysics, embryology, genetics, live imaging and systems level data analysis and computer modeling. Current research focuses on understanding the intertwining roles of cell signaling, cell-cell adhesion and cell-extracellular matrix adhesion in embryonic body elongation and segmentation.