Robert Lipinski, PhD

Credentials: Comparative Biosciences

Position title: Associate Professor


Phone: 608-265-4043

Organ System/Disease Focus
Normal and abnormal craniofacial development, neural crest, birth defects
Aligned Research Focus
Vertebrate developmental biology, birth defects research

Research Description

Our research is focused understanding the mechanisms that drive craniofacial development and identifying genetic and environmental influences that interact to cause birth defects of the brain and face, including orofacial clefts of the lip and palate. We are particularly interested in the cranial neural crest, a population of highly proliferative multipotent stem cells that differentiate and form the majority of the connective tissue of the face including the upper lip and palate. We have a long-standing interest understanding how cranial neural crest biology is regulated by Sonic Hedgehog signaling, a pathway sensitive to genetic and environmental influences and directly linked to human birth defects. An emerging focus in our laboratory is understanding epigenetic regulation of neural crest biology, and investigating how environmentally-sensitive mechanisms like DNA methylation influence craniofacial development.

Selected References:
  1. Sun MR, HM Chung, V Matsuk, DM Fink, MJ Stebbins, SP Palacek, EV Shusta, and RJ Lipinski. Sonic hedgehog signaling in cranial neural crest cells regulates microvascular morphogenesis in facial development. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. 2020 Oct 7;8:590539. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2020.590539
  2. Beames TG and RJ Lipinski. Gene-environment interactions: aligning birth defects research with complex etiology. Development. 2020. Jul 17;147(21):dev191064. doi: 10.1242/dev.191064. *Review article
  3. Everson, JL, DM Fink, HM Chung, MR Sun, and RJ Lipinski (2018). Identification of Sonic Hedgehog regulated genes and biological processes in the cranial neural crest mesenchyme by comparative transcriptomics. BMC Genomics. 2018 Jun 27;19(1):497.
  4. Everson JE, Fink DM, Yoon JW, Leslie EJ, Kietzman HW, Ansen-Wilson LA, Chung HM, Walterhouse DO, Marazita ML and RJ Lipinski (2017). Sonic hedgehog regulation of Foxf2 promotes cranial neural crest mesenchyme proliferation and is disrupted in cleft lip morphogenesis. Development. Jun 1;144(11):2082-2091. PMCID: PMC5482988