Basic Sciences Division, Fred Hutch
Dr. Cecilia Moens studies how genes control the brain’s early development, setting up the complex structure found in adult brains. She uses zebrafish as a model system in which to understand how genes control important processes, such as how cells grow and change into new cell types, and how they move and communicate with each other in a 3D environment over time. These processes are exquisitely regulated in developing organs — but the same genes that control development can promote cancer when awakened in adult tissue. A deeper understanding of the genes that control these processes will also shed light on what goes awry in cancer. Dr. Moens also focuses on the relationship between neuron location, identity and function. She is working to understand how cranial motor neurons, which control muscles in the head and neck, move to the right location, acquire their identity as motor neurons and become part of a functional, muscle-controlling circuit.
Affiliate Professor, Biology Program
University of Washington
Ph.D., Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, 1993
B.Sc., Biology, York University, 1987
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