Robert Angerer, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Developmental Mechanisms Section


Scientific Director


Building 30, Room 5A07
30 Convent Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892


Research Topics

For a description of research interests and areas of scientific focus, see the Developmental Mechanisms main page on the NIDCR Website.


I received my Ph.D. in 1973 from the Department of Biology, The Johns Hopkins University, conducting research on expression of repetitive sequence transcripts in mouse tissues. I then joined the laboratory of Roy J. Britten at the Kerckoff Marine Laboratory of Caltech where I studied comparative DNA sequence organization and evolution. I moved to Eric Davidson's lab in Pasadena, where we used early cloning techniques to search for maternal transcripts in sea urchins embryos. After taking positions at the University of Rochester in 1978, Lynne Angerer and I set up a laboratory using molecular biological methods to study specification of cell fates in early sea urchin embryos. For the first 20 years I taught an advanced course in molecular biology of eukaryotic gene expression and then changed to introductory developmental biology. During the first few years there, we developed the technique of in situ hybridization to detect mRNAs using RNA probes. We applied this approach to map the transcriptional territories that form during development of the sea urchin embryo, which eventually led to the discoveries of several transcription factors that control ectoderm development. When we moved to NIDCR in 2004, I became the Scientific Director of the Division of Intramural Research and Lynne became the head of the Developmental Mechanisms Section. Using the newly sequenced sea urchin genome, we developed a microarray representing all the predicted protein sequences and used it in a series of screens to identify transcription factors and signal transduction pathways that pattern the neural and non-neural regions of ectoderm. Recent work includes the unexpected discovery of neuro-endoderm precursors, the stepwise mechanism of endomesoderm segregation, the multiple interactions between Wnt and Nodal signaling pathways to maintain embryo patterning along the anterior-posterior axis, and the finding that multiple Wnt pathways pattern early neuroectoderm.

Selected Publications

  1. Sethi AJ, Wikramanayake RM, Angerer RC, Range RC, Angerer LM. Sequential signaling crosstalk regulates endomesoderm segregation in sea urchin embryos. Science. 2012;335(6068):590-3.

  2. Wei Z, Angerer LM, Angerer RC. Neurogenic gene regulatory pathways in the sea urchin embryo. Development. 2016;143(2):298-305.

  3. Wei Z, Angerer RC, Angerer LM. Direct development of neurons within foregut endoderm of sea urchin embryos. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011;108(22):9143-7.

  4. Sethi AJ, Angerer RC, Angerer LM. Gene regulatory network interactions in sea urchin endomesoderm induction. PLoS Biol. 2009;7(2):e1000029.

  5. Range RC, Angerer RC, Angerer LM. Integration of canonical and noncanonical Wnt signaling pathways patterns the neuroectoderm along the anterior-posterior axis of sea urchin embryos. PLoS Biol. 2013;11(1):e1001467.

This page was last updated on September 6th, 2017