Howard University Graduate School

HUGS Research Magazine
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Rui Diogo, Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy, Howard University College of Medicine, Conducts Research on Evolution of Human Development

By Janine Ziermann, Ph.D. and Gwendolyn S. Bethea, Ph.D.

Rui Diogo
Rui Diogo, Ph.D. is an assistant professor, Department of Anatomy, Howard University College of Medicine. He coordinated the First International Meeting of Evolutionary Developmental Biology (Evo-Devo) of Heart and Head Muscles on May 11-13, 2014, held in the Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine.

Muscular and Skeletal Anomalies in Human Trisomy in an Evo-Devo Context
Muscular and Skeletal Anomalies in Human Trisomy in an Evo-Devo Context

An on-line interview with Dr. Diogo follows below:

Q: What are some of the significant findings of your research on evolutionary developmental biology, and human development?
Diogo: Examples of significant findings are the discovery that the regeneration of limbs in salamanders, which are the most used model organism to study regeneration, does not produce a “perfectly” regenerated limb, but instead a limb with some muscle defects.

Another line of research concerns the finding of some additional muscles in humans with trisomy, including Down Syndrome (trisomy 21). Furthermore, the lab was the first to discover a systematic pattern of relationships between soft tissues (for instance, muscles) and hard tissues (for instance, bones) in the hands and feet of humans with more or less than five digits.

Surgeries of such limbs are among the most frequent in humans, so this issue is of extreme importance for medicine. Together with colleagues, we also reported the surprising connection between head and heart muscles, an issue that also has crucial implications for human medicine, and in particular for syndromes such as Di George Syndrome, which precisely affects both the head and heart muscles.


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