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Ryan Willett, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Ryan Willett

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Education and Training

March 2011-Present

Research Fellow, SKI Developmental Biology Program, Joyner Lab

July 2010-February 2011

Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Columbia University Medical Center, Greene Lab


Ph.D. in Pharmacology, Columbia University

Dissertation: “Studies of GATA2 in development of the peripheral and central nervous systems.”

Advisor: Lloyd Greene


B.S. in Biology; B.A. in Biochemistry, Brandeis University

Research Interests

The Engrailed family of homeodomain transcription factors are expressed during development in most cell types of the cerebellum and are required for specification of the normal size, foliation pattern, routing of afferent projections of precerebellar nuclei and gene expression patterns. Recently using mouse Cre lines specific for ventricular zone derived  (VZD) or rhombic lip derived cells (RLD), our group has been able to separate components of this complex phenotype to different progenitor domains, especially foliation defects (VZD) and cerebellar hypoplasia (RLD). Despite this central role in cerebellar development, the cofactors, gene targets and cell-specific roles of mammalian Engrailed proteins are not well understood. The goals of my project are two-fold: 1) Classification of the interacting partners and downstream transcriptional targets of En2, the principle member expressed in the granule cell lineage, with genetic knock-in and biochemical approaches; 2) Utilize inducible and conditional gene knockout strategies to identify the role of Engrailed genes in development of the mouse cerebellar granule cell and uncover the mechanism underlying the Engrailed hypoplasia phenotype.


Willett RT, Greene LA. (2011) Gata2 is required for migration and differentiation of retinorecipient neurons in the superior colliculus. J Neurosci. Mar 23; 31(12): 4444-55.

Malagelada C, López-Toledano MA, Willett RT, Jin ZH, Shelanski ML, Greene LA. (2011) RTP801/REDD1 regulates the timing of cortical neurogenesis and neuron migration. J Neurosci. Mar 2;31(9):3186-96.

Biswas SC, Zhang Y, Iyirhiaro G, Willett RT, Rodriguez Gonzalez Y, Cregan SP, Slack RS, Park DS, Greene LA.  (2010) Sertad1 plays an essential role in developmental and pathological neuron death. J Neurosci. Mar 17; 30(11):3973-82.