Scott Holley, Ph.D.
Scott Holley, Ph.D. is a Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. He received 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 that noggin is a Bmp inhibitor. He also originated the concept of facilitated morphogen diffusion as a mechanism for creating a cell signaling gradient. 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 discovered the zebrafish segmentation clock which creates the repetitive pattern of the vertebral column. Genetic mutations affecting this mechanism cause spinal column defects such as scoliosis in zebrafish, mice and humans. Currently, his lab studies the mechanisms of segmentation and body elongation during early spinal column development. He is interested in how order emerges in developing embryos and utilizes genetics, embryology, systems biology and biophysics. His lab discovered roles for regulated tissue fluidity and inter-tissue adhesion in early spinal column development. 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.