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Our Scientific Advisory Board


Licia Selleri, MD, PhD


University of California, San Francisco

Following her postdoctoral fellowship in molecular genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where she had the privilege to meet and interact with Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine, as well as Nobel Laureates Francis Crick and Renato Dulbecco, Dr. Selleri became an instructor at Stanford University.

At Stanford, she used genetic engineering to generate mouse models with loss of function for the PBX transcription factors, also known as HOX-cofactors. Her work showed for the first time that these homeodomain proteins are major developmental regulators in the mammalian embryo.


For the past 20 years, Dr. Selleri has studied the genetic and transcriptional basis of how elaborately patterned tissues and organs form during development and how perturbation of these processes cause birth defects, first in her laboratory at Cornell University Medical School and then at the University of California, San Francisco.

She has discovered that homeodomain-containing transcription factors of the PBX family are major developmental regulators of multiple organs, including the spleen and the craniofacial complex, through the transcriptional control of target genes within tissue-specific regulatory networks.

Using genetically-engineered and ethylnitrosourea (ENU)-mutagenized mouse lines her lab has built models of human congenital diseases, including Isolated Congenital Asplenia and Cleft Lip/Palate.

She is expanding her studies of spleen development and its perturbations with the generation and characterization of mouse models that lack the function of Rpsa, the gene encoding a ribosomal-associated protein that is mutated in approximately 50% of the patients with Isolated Congenital Asplenia.


  • EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) PhD Fellowship (1987)

  • Dutch Fellowship for Foreign Researchers, Erasmus University, Holland (19871988)

  • AIRC (Associazione Italiana Ricerca Cancro) Fellowship (1989)

  • NATO Fellowship (1989-1990)

  • GIBCO BRL Life Sciences Prize, "The Art of Science"(1990)

  • N.I.H. Fogarty Postdoctoral Fellowship (1990-1992)

  • American Cancer Society Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship (1992-1994)

  • ward from the French Ministry of Research & Education (Visiting Scholar at CEPH, Fondation Jean Dausset, Paris) (2001)

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