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Dr. Nathan Wilson

Dr. Nathan Wilson Dr. Nathan Wilson is a Research Fellow - Liao Lab Harvard Medical School; PhD, Cell Biology University of Kansas Medical Center.

Dr. Nathan Wilson
Dr. Nathan Wilson is a Research Fellow - Liao Lab Harvard Medical School; PhD, Cell Biology University of Kansas Medical Center.

About Dr. Nathan Wilson:

What are your research interests?
Currently, my research interest focus upon the roles played by microRNAs, small non-coding RNAs, in secondary palate fusion and the intersection between microRNA processing and alternative splicing. I was hoping to present some of the results of this work at the PSRC meeting.

Thus far, my favorite research article is "SPECC1L deficiency results in increased adherens junction stability and reduced cranial neural crest cell delamination." Therein, we showed that SPECC1L stabilizes the protein kinase AKT, and in doing so facilitating correct intercellular adhesions in the developing palate.

What made you choose plastic surgery research?
I am most interested in research with potential clinical applications. As a surgeon-scientist with a strong track record in researching craniofacial development, Dr. Eric Liao’s lab is an ideal environment to continue my research. Additionally, we were already acquainted with each other, as his lab previously studied Specc1l, though using a Zebrafish model.

What did you study during your graduate training?
I completed my training at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. I earned a PhD in cell biology, working in a, at the time, newly founded lab. My dissertation research focused upon determining the cellular roles of a cytoskeletal protein, SPECC1L. Mutation in Specc1l were initially identified as the cause of rare and sever facial clefting, as described by Dr. Paul Tessier. My research determined roles for SPECC1L in cell adhesion and migration, two cellular processes required for normal fusion of the secondary palate.

How did you decide on a research career?
As an undergraduate, I completed coursework oriented towards being accepted into medical school. The summer before my senior year, I volunteered in a lab at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. The lab studied the molecular processes underlying the developmental process known as somitogenesis. I worked as an assistant for a graduate student who was specifically focused upon understanding the ‘somitic clock’, whereby somites form in a temporally predictable and rhythmic way. Seeing this process first hand in the developing chick embryo, was formative and caused me to change my career plans.

What's a fun fact about you?
A fun fact about me is that I really enjoy almost any outdoor activity and have thus visited almost every state and national park in Northern California.

When I need to relax, I enjoy working in our garden.


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