For the first time, scientists have shown that a small cluster of cells in the human embryo dictates the fate of other embryonic cells. The discovery of this developmental “organizer” could advance research into many human diseases, and it suggests we have more in common with birds than meets the eye.
"'It is mind-blowing' that cells from such evolutionarily distant species can share these developmental instructions, says Ali Brivanlou, a stem cell biologist at The Rockefeller University in New York City and a senior author on the new study. The organizer 'has been conserved evolutionarily over hundreds of millions of years, so not seeing it would have been a surprise,' he says. But, 'There is something really emotional about looking that far back at human origin.'"
NIH Director's Blog
"[Michael] Rout and [Brian] Chait have spent more than 20 years trying to solve the structure of NPCs. Not only are NPCs large and constantly engaged in shuttling molecules in and out, they also represent moving machines."
"What we do incredibly well is fundamental life science," says Richard Lifton. "The clarity of our mission—science for the benefit of humanity—starts from the heads of laboratories and permeates through our students and staff, and really makes Rockefeller an extraordinary place for doing biomedical science."