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The Gillis Lab studies vertebrate embryonic development and the early evolution of the vertebrate body plan. We are particularly interested in development, growth and repair of the vertebrate skeleton and the evolution of skeletal, sensory and neuroendocrine cell types.

Current research topics include:

  • Serial homology of the gill arch skeleton and the origin of jawed vertebrates
  • Development, growth and repair of cartilage
  • Development and evolution of the lateral line system
  • Neuroendocrine cell type diversity and major transitions in chordate evolution

Key Publications

Criswell KE, Roberts L, Koo ET, Head JJ, Gillis JA (in press) hox gene expression predicts tetrapod-like axial regionalization in the skate, Leucoraja erinaceaProc. Nat’l Acad. Sci. U.S.A.

Hirschberger CSleight VACriswell KE, Clark SJ, Gillis JA (2021) Conserved and unique transcriptional features of pharyngeal arches in the skate (Leucoraja erinacea) and evolution of the jaw. Mol. Biol. Evol. 38: 4187-4204.

Sleight VAGillis JA (2020) Embryonic origin and serial homology of gill arches and paired fins in the skate, Leucoraja erinaceaeLife 9: e60635.

Marconi A, Hancock-Ronemus A, Gillis JA (2020) Adult chondrogenesis and spontaneous cartilage repair in the skate, Leucoraja erinaceaeLife 9: e53414.

Criswell KEGillis JA (2020) Resegmentation is an ancestral feature of the gnathostome vertebral skeleton. eLife 9: e51696.

Gillis JA, Alsema EC, Criswell KE (2017) A trunk neural crest origin of dermal denticles in a cartilaginous fish. Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 114: 13200-13205.

Criswell KE, Coates MI, Gillis JA (2017) Embryonic origin of the gnathostome vertebral column. Proc. Roy. Soc. B. 284: 20172121.

Gillis JA, Tidswell ORA (2017) The origin of vertebrate gills. Curr. Biol. 27: 729-732.

Full list of publications

Contact Details

Group Leader

Dr Andrew Gillis

Department of Zoology
University of Cambridge
Downing St

01223  (3)34352

Group Members