Cathy Savage-Dunn is a molecular and cellular biologist with expertise in the study of cell signaling mechanisms and their roles in development and physiology. Dr. Savage-Dunn focuses on signaling by secreted small proteins in the multi-functional Transforming Growth Factor beta (TGF-β) family, with an emphasis on the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) subfamily. In humans, misregulation of BMP signaling is associated with developmental and skeletal abnormalities, cardiovascular defects, metabolic dysfunction, and cancer. The Savage-Dunn lab employs the nematode (roundworm) Caenorhabditis elegans as a model to understand how BMP signaling mediates effects on development and homeostasis. These signaling mechanisms are conserved among all animals, so insight derived from the C. elegans system are applicable to normal and pathological states in humans. For example, Dr. Savage-Dunn co-discovered Smad proteins, critical signal transducers for TGF-β signaling, using a genetic approach in C. elegans. Smad genes act as tumor suppressors in humans, among other functions. Recent projects in the Savage-Dunn lab have analyzed the regulation of body size, lipid metabolism, and innate immunity by BMP signaling. Capitalizing on the strengths of the nematode C. elegans system in genetic, genomic and live imaging approaches, the Savage-Dunn lab has provided novel insight into BMP signaling mechanisms in gene regulation, signaling crosstalk, and tissue interactions.
Dr. Savage-Dunn received her PhD from Columbia University working with now Nobel Laureate Dr. Martin Chalfie. She trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Iva Greenwald at Princeton University and with Dr. Richard Padgett at Rutgers University before joining the faculty of Queens College in 1997. Dr. Savage-Dunn served for many years as the Queens College Graduate Deputy Chair liaison to the PhD Program in Biology, and is currently the Executive Officer of the PhD Program in Biology. Dr. Savage-Dunn is active in her scientific community, serving on grant review panels for NIH and NSF, as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals, and as a Science Officer for microPublication Biology. She has co-authored scholarly review chapters for WormBook and Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, among others. She has co-organized local, regional, and international scientific conferences, including the New York Area Worm Meeting, Northeast Society for Developmental Biology Conference, and FASEB SRC The TGF-β Superfamily Conference: Signaling in Development and Disease.
Professional Affiliations and Memberships
- American Society for Cell Biology
- Genetics Society of America
- Society for Developmental Biology