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Nathan Young Ph.D.

Evolution and Development of the Craniofacial Skeleton

Nathan Young Ph.D.

I study the evolution and development of the human face, and utilize two complementary approaches in my research. In the first I take a "gene up" approach to understand how variation in genetic and molecular factors contribute to differences in early facial morphogenesis. This kind of research has clinical implications, since disruptions to normal developmental events often lead to craniofacial birth defects, and these often express a range of severity that has been previously difficult to predict and understand. In the second, I take a "phenotype down" approach, analyzing variation in the faces of children and adults to understand how growth impacts shape, and the genetic factors that contribute to variation among individuals. The ultimate goal of this research is to better predict individual facial shape and growth, and apply this information in clinical contexts to better "personalize" individual prognoses and treatment plans.

Selected publications:

Young, N.M., Hu, D., Lainoff, A.J., Smith, F., Diaz, R., Tucker, A.S., Trainor, P.A., Schneider, R.A., Hallgrímsson, B., Marcucio, R.S. 2014. Embryonic bauplans and the developmental origins of facial diversity and constraint. Development 141(5).

Li, X., Young, N.M., Tropp, S., Hu, D., Xu, Y., Hallgrímsson, B., Marcucio, R.S. 2013. Quantification of shape and cell polarity reveals a novel mechanism underlying malformations resulting from related FGF mutations during facial morphogenesis. Human Molecular Genetics 22(25):5160-5172.

Smith, F., Hu, D., Young, N.M., Lainoff, A.J., Jamniczky, H.A., Maltepe, E., Hallgrímsson, B., Marcucio, R.S. 2013. The effect of hypoxia on facial shape variation and disease phenotypes. Disease, Models, and Mechanisms 6:915-924.

Chong, H.J.*, Young, N.M.*, Jeong, J., McMahon, A.P., Hallgrímsson, B., Marcucio, R.S. 2012. Signaling by SHH rescues facial defects following blockade in the brain. Developmental Dynamics 241(2):247-56 (*co-first authors).

Young, N.M., Chong, H.J., Hu, D., Hallgrímsson, B., Marcucio, R.S. 2010. Quantitative analyses link modulation of sonic hedgehog (SHH) signaling to continuous variation in growth and shape of the face. Development 137, 3405-3409.