BBS Faculty Member - Clifford Tabin

Clifford Tabin

Department of Genetics

Harvard Medical School
Dept. of Genetics, NRB 360
77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
Boston, MA 02115

Assistant: Terri Broderick

Tel: 617-432-7618
Fax: 617-432-7944
Lab Members: 8 postdoctoral fellows, 5 graduate students
Visit my lab page here.

The laboratory studies the genetic basis by which form and structure are regulated during vertebrate development. In this work, we combine classical methods of experimental embryology with modern molecular and genetic techniques for regulating gene expression during embryogenesis. We also investigate the genetic changes underlying morphological evolution in vertebrates.

One of the classic systems for the study of embryonic development is the chick embryo, where grafting experiments have given profound insight into such questions as the patterning of developing limb axes, and the control of organogenesis. These classical experiments provide a context for interpreting modern molecular studies and the methods they employed also give us an additional set of tools for manipulating the embryo. For example, we can use retroviral vectors to alter gene expression in the context of specific transplantations or extirpations. Important complementary information is gained from studies taking advantage of the powerful techniques for regulated misexpression and gene deletion in the mouse.

The lab has major efforts underway exploiting these approaches to understand limb development, from the establishment of the initial axes, to understanding the difference in genetic controls between an arm and a leg, through later specific events such as differential bone growth and specific muscle patterning; and to understand the establishment of left-right asymmetry (e.g.. why your heart is on the left and not the right) from the initiation of the left-right difference, through signaling cascades, to left- or right-specific morphogenesis. We also currently have projects looking at the differentiation of the somites and morphogenesis of the heart, as well as biochemical analysis of the hedgehog signal transduction system, a key signaling pathway during development. In addition, we have evolutionary projects examining the developmental and genetic basis for the morphological variation seen in Jerboas and in cave fish and other animals.

Last Update: 2/17/2015


For a complete listing of publications click here.



Cooper, K.L., Hu, J.K., ten Berge, D., Fernandez-Teran, M., Ros, M.A., Tabin, C.J. Initiation of proximal-distal patterning in the vertebrate limb by signals and growth. Science 332(6033): 1038-1039 (2011).

Savin, T., Kurpios, N.A., Shyer, A.E., Florescu, P., Liang, H., Mahadevan, L., Tabin, C.J. On the growth and form of the gut.
Nature, 476(7358): 57-62 (2011).

Gross, JB, Kerney, R, Hanken, J, Tabin, CT. Molecular anatomy of the developing limb in the coqui frog,
Eleutherodactylus coqui. Evolution & Development, 13(5):415-426 (2011).

Lehoczky, JA., Robert, B., Tabin, CJ. Mouse digit tip regeneration is mediated by fate-restricted progenitor cells.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 108(51): 20609-20614 (2011).

© 2014 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College