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Professor and Chair
Department of Molecular, Cellular & Craniofacial Biology
School of Dentistry


Birth Defects Center

Department of Pediatrics
Distinguished University Scholar


A quarter of a million babies—3% of all infants born in the US each year—have some mental or physical defect that is evident at birth. Since the causes of nearly all birth defects are largely unknown, research into molecular regulatory mechanisms responsible for normal embryogenesis provides the framework for investigations into the etiology of abnormal embryonic development.  

Craniofacial malformations occur wmicrorna_pathway_diagram.jpgith a frequency of 1 in 600 live births annually in the United States.  Our previous studies have provided substantial evidence supporting the premise that various cellular signal transduction pathways interact to regulate cell proliferation and cell differentiation in embryonic craniofacial tissue.  Such interactions represent the underpinnings of a complex and delicately balanced developmental system where morphogenesis and cellular differentiation of the craniofacial region are mediated by the sequential expression of molecular signals.  Our studies dealing with molecular analyses of gene function in the embryo—utilizing the developing craniofacial region—are designed to provide definition and clarification of developmental signaling pathways critical for normal embryogenesis as well as identification of foci for perturbation and attendant fetal abnormalities.

Current studies—selected specifics outlined briefly below—are designed to identify means by which signal transduction pathways, known to be critical in development of the craniofacial region, regulate gene expression and embryonic development.

Overview of selected laboratory investigatory areas:

  1. microRNAs & epigenetic regulation of craniofacial development
  2. Transcriptional coactivators and craniofacial & neural tube development.
  3. Transcriptional coactivators and folate-mediated development.
  4. Cigarette smoke-induced intrauterine growth retardation & adverse developmental outcomes.
  5. TGFß/Smad signaling mechanisms in embryonic craniofacial development.

Screen shot 2010-09-25 at 12.12.52 AM.pngGRANTS FUNDED

  1. NIH (NICHD) Research Grant,  RM Greene – PI; MM Pisano – Co-I; (R01–HD053509) “TRANSCRIPTIONAL COACTIVATORS AND PREGNANCY OUTCOMES” 2008-2013; $1,321,365
  2. NIH Research Grant,  RM GREENE – PI; (R01–DE018215) “NUTRITIONAL EPIGENETICS AND OROFACIAL DEVELOPMENT” 2008-2012 – $900,000
  3. NCRR Center for Biomedical Research Excellence,  RM Greene – PI – (P20-RR/DE17702) “MOLECULAR DETERMINANTS OF DEVELOPMENTAL DEFECTS” 2002-2013;  $12,072,292
  4. Kosair Charities – Birth Defects Center Postdoctoral Fellowship, RM Greene – PI 2009-2011; $45,000


  1.  Warner DR, Smith HS, Webb CL, Greene RM, Pisano MM.  Expression of Wnts in the developing     murine secondary palate. Internat J Develop Biol 53:1105-1115 (2009). PMC2746657
  2. Bhatacherjee V, Horn K, Singh S, Webb CL, Pisano MM, Greene, RM. CBP/p300 and associated transcriptional  coactivators  exhibit distinct expression patterns during murine craniofacial and neural tube development. Internat J Develop Biol 53:1097-1104 (2009). PMC2746635
  3. Mukhopadhyay P, Rezzoug F, Webb CL, Pisano MM, Greene RM. Suppression of chondrogenesis     by     Id helix-loop-helix proteins in embryonic orofacial tissue. Differentiation 77:462-472 (2009).PMC2694226
  4. Singh S, Greene RM and Pisano MM. Arsenate-induced  apoptosis in murine embryonic maxillary     mesenchymal cells via mitochondrial mediated oxidative injury  Birth Defects Res A 88:25-34 (2010). PMC2806510
  5. Pisano MM, Bhatacherjee V,  Wong L, Henley A, Finnell R, Greene RM. Novel folate binding protein 1 interactions in embryonic orofacial tissue. Life Sci 86:275-280 (2010). PMC2819649
  6. Warner DR, Horn K, Pisano MM, Greene RM. PRDM16/MEL1 expression in the developing mouse embryo. Acta Histochem (accepted for publication) (2010).
  7.  Horn KH, Mukhopadhyay P, Horn KH, Esposito ER, Greene RM, Pisano MM.  Prenatal exposure to sidestream tobacco smoke alters gene expression in the developing murine hippocampus.     Reproductive Toxicology 29:164-175 (2010). PMID: 19969065
  8. Mukhopadhyay P, Brock G, Pihur V, Pisano MM, Greene RM.  Developmental microRNA expression profiling of murine embryonic orofacial tissue.  Birth Defects Research A 88:511-534 (2010). PMID: 20589883
  9. Greene RM and Pisano MM. Palate Morphogenesis: Current Understanding & Future Directions Birth Defects Research C: Embryo Today  90:133-154 (2010).  PMID: 20544696
  10. Horn K, Warner DR,  Pisano MM, Greene RM. PRDM16 expression in the developing mouse embryo. Acta Histochemica, accepted for publication - (2010). PMID: 19853285
  11. Warner D, Mukhopadhyay P, Brock G, Pihur V, Pisano, M, Greene RM.  TGFß and Wnt-3a interact to induce unique gene expression profiles in murine embryonic palate mesenchyme cells. Reproductive Toxicology, accepted for publication – (2010).

Screen shot 2010-09-25 at 12.13.57 AM.pngEXTERNAL PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES:

  • Member, NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) Special Emphasis Panel/Scientific Review Group, ZRG1   EMNR-C ,DRG, NIH, 2009.
  • Editorial Board, Orthodontics and Craniofacial Research
  •  Editorial Board, Associate Editor, Birth Defects Research, Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology
  • Editorial Board, Risk Management and Healthcare Policy.
  • Expert Witness – Schiller Osbourn, Barnes & Maloney, 2010-2011
  • Member, Board of Directors, Spina Bifida Association of Kentucky, Inc.
  • Scientific Consultant - Genetics & IVF Institute, Inc., Fairfax, VA
  •   - Member, Physician Champion Network in Kentucky (advocacy for birth defects surveillance), (since 1998)

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