Phi Beta Kappa Lecture, Hazel Sive, "The Right Size Head"

The face is an identifying feature of an individual, and is carefully crafted in the embryo, so that its elements, including the mouth and jaws are proportionate. We defined a region of the embryo that controls face formation, and called it the ‘Extreme Anterior Domain’ (EAD). The EAD eventually gives rise to the mouth, but much earlier, we showed that the EAD is a signaling center, organizing aspects of face formation. Our surprising latest results, demonstrate that the EAD coordinates both face and brain size, consistent with the characteristic size and shape of the head in each species. The signals involved control the Wnt pathway, and can travel over long distances, at least 40 cell diameters. Our findings identify an evolutionarily conserved mechanism, that ensures coordinate development of multiple tissues contributing to the head. The study gives a new view on microcephaly, where decreases are frequently observed in both brain size and the facial skeleton, implying that disruption of the EAD organizer may contribute to this severe disorder.  

Professor Sive's groundbreaking research focuses on neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders, as well as fundamental processes underlying brain and craniofacial development. She also focuses on education and training. She is a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT’s highest undergraduate teaching award. She teaches Introductory Biology, graduate Neuroscience and a new subject called Building with Cells. She is former Associate Dean of Science with oversight for equity and education. Dr. Sive is Founder and Director of MIT-Africa, an initiative that promotes mutually beneficial connections between MIT and African colleagues, and Director of Higher Education for the new Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) at MIT. She is committed to communicating to the powerful contributions that education and scientific research make to society.

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Thursday, February 6 at 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Beatrice M. Haggerty Gallery, Haggar Art Auditorium ART 112
2910 Haggerty Lane, Irving, TX 75062

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations

Target Audience

Students, Faculty & Staff, Alumni & Donors


Science & Technology

Biology, Chemistry, Constantin College
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