top of page


My research focuses on muscle evolution and development in vertebrates, in particular muscles derived from the cardiopharyngeal field. The cardiopharyngeal field is simplified a mesodermal progenitor field that gives rise to head and heart musculature. Both, head and heart development are dependent on neural crest cells which are called cranial and cardiac neural crest cells, respectively. However, when and how becomes the influence of neural crest cells relevant for the proper differentiation of cardiopharyngeal mesoderm derivatives?

Available projects: contact me &/or see projects described here: Members 

Evolution and Development of Cephalic (head, neck) and Cardiac (heart) Musculature in Vertebrates

The development of craniofacial and cardiac musculature is closely related to each other. Comparing the development and morphology of diverse vertebrates with each other conserved and variable characters can be observed, which gives us insights into developmental mechanisms and the evolution of those characters.

Figure by Julia Molnar

Cardiopharyngeal syndromes

The head and heart musculature derives from a common progenitor field, called the cardiopharyngeal field. Any disturbance during development of this field can course craniofacial and cardiac anomalies. Many human syndromes include both head and heart anomalies and are potential cardiopharyngeal syndromes.

Foto by Dameel Edwards

Human Anatomy, Variations, Development, and Pathology

The human anatomy is fascinating and each human has enough variations in its normal morphology that it makes him/her unique. Understanding the difference between normal variations and pathological changes is important for many health care related professions (e.g., surgery, occupational therapy, physical therapy).

Drawing by Janet Frankovic


GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS)

Using Three Dimensional Printed Models in Embryology Education

PI – Victor Taylor II, Co-Investigators: Rosalyn Jurjus, Janine M. Ziermann

$ 6,500

1/2019 -12/2019


Office of Faculty Development at Howard University

Travel Award to attend Anatomage Table User Group Meeting 2018; San Jose, CA

Role: Attendee

$ 2,500

7/20 – 7/21, 2018

College of Medicine Research Award (CoMRAD), University of Saskatchewan, CAN

A newly discovered role for physical contacts among head muscles and bones during healthy musculoskeletal development and growth

PI - Julia Boughner, Co-Investigators: Rui Diogo, Janine M. Ziermann, Diego Rasskin-Gutman

$ 8,435


2017 RCMI Research Readiness Contest (awarded May 11, 2017)

Travel Opportunity for a Professional Development Conference/Training

Role: Participant at NIH BioTech 55: Engineering with CRISPR, TALENs, & ZFNs -. NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA

$ 1,500

7/31 – 8/4, 2017

BFPSAP (Application for the Bridge Funds and Pilot Study Awards Program) Howard University (U100217)

How tissue interactions can (or cannot) get you your heart's desire: Role of neural crest cells for development of head and heart muscles

Role: PI

$ 25,000


Faculty Start-Up Package, Howard University College of Medicine (U400035)

Comparative Chordate Embryology and Implications for Human Health

PI - Rui Diogo; Role: Postdoctoral researcher


NCB Naturalis call 'ultra-high-throughput sequencing 2010' (PS2010.07)

Role: PI, Co-investigators: J. W. Arntzen (Naturalis, Leiden, Netherlands), M. K. Richardson (IBL, IZ, Leiden, Netherlands), B. Wielstra (Naturalis, Leiden, Netherlands)

€ 12,400


NWO-ALW (ALW817.02.027)

Developmental mechanisms of body plan evolution in a morphocline of salamanders

PI - M. K. Richardson; Role: Postdoctoral researcher


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (OL 134/2-4)

Cranial muscle development and evolution in anuran larvae

PI – Lennart Olsson; Role: PhD student


bottom of page