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PDB Journal Club

The Developmental Biology Journal Club (DBJC) is a weekly forum where program members can learn about and discuss recently published developmental biology-themed research findings.

Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and primary investigators all share presentation responsibilities. Once a member is chosen to present at the DBJC he or she must choose a topic outside his or her typical field of interest, adapt the article for a 30-40 minute PowerPoint presentation, and be prepared to discuss the work in a Q&A session afterwards.

Journal Club is a great way for less-established researchers to gain public speaking and question-and-answer experience in a collegial, non-stressful environment. Additionally, younger program members can learn staging and questioning skills from senior member DBJC presentations. Refreshments are always served and attendees are encouraged to continue their discussions after the seminar has ended.

Journal Club


We will have our final journal club of the spring season on Friday, June 28 at 4pm in MRBIII 3131. Eric Donahue (MD/PhD Candidate in the Gannon lab) will present the paper: Abscisic acid – an anti-angiogenic phytohormone that modulates the phenotypical plasticity of endothelial cells and macrophages, Chaqour et al. Journal of Cell Science (2018) 131.

Angiogenesis is a delicate process that can lead to scarring and inflammation when dysregulated. The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) is involved in plant dormancy and stress response. ABA also has, however, a recently discovered anti-inflammatory role in a preclinical model of diabetes. Chaqour et al. argue that as a “natural phytochemical… [ABA] minimally affect[s] the overall health of tissues” and “is a better alternative approach” than synthetic drugs. An editor at JCS could have been impressed by this pseudo-scientific claim and raised its priority for publication.
3D endothelial cultures and murine models demonstrated that ABA inhibits endothelial growth/expansion and stunts pathologic angiogenesis in the retina. They conclude that protective functions of ABA against neovascular growth occur via modulation of endothelial cell and macrophage plasticity, suggesting the potential therapeutic utility of ABA in vasoproliferative diseases.

Do their data support their claims, or are they being too generous? Come to the final PDB Journal Club of the academic year to find out!

Thank you,

Justine Sinnaeve
Cancer Biology PhD Candidate
Laboratory of Rebecca Ihrie, PhD
Clinical Neuroscience Scholar (
Vanderbilt University
761 Preston Research Building
Nashville, TN 37232

Annual Retreat

Hi Everyone, and while too late really – Happy New Year!  But really, I hope everyone had or is having the best start to 2019…

Annual Retreat 2019 dates/location:

While we tried hard to find a location that could take us, accommodate UAB / other attendees, and asked you for suggestions as to moving the retreat to sometime outside of early September, it has just not been possible.

Thank you for all your input on these issues – it really did help, even though, essentially, we stay on the same time.

Several locations are currently closed or later closing (Paris Landing Lodge being demolished, Montgomery Bell) to undergo long-lasting, resort-wide renovations.

PLEASE INSERT THE SAVE THE DATE INTO YOUR CALENDAR, and pass this information around to relevant people.

September 5 & 6, 2019.   Pickwick Landing *which will also close after our visit for demolish/remodel (already planned – not because they expect we will trash it!)

Please remember, if you hear anybody planning another major event, symposium, seminar, anything similar – tell them we are already committed to this date – yes, September 5 & 6, 2019!

Also, FYI, we have already secured our keynote speaker, enthusiastically coming as a holdover from 2018, Prof. Marnie Halpern from the Carnegie Institution of Washington –

Thank you!

Christopher V. E. Wright, D.Phil.

Director, Vanderbilt University Program in Developmental Biology
Associate Director, Vanderbilt Center for Stem Cell Biology
Louise B. McGavock Chair
Professor and Vice-Chair for Faculty Affairs,
Dept. Cell & Developmental Biology

2213 Garland Avenue
Nashville, TN 37232-0494
phone  615-343-8256
FAX  615-343-4539

Program Website