Jeremy Nathans,MD, PHD

Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics; Professor, Neuroscience; Theobald Professor of Ophthalmology

Specialization: Molecular Genetics of Mammalian Nervous System Development


Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

725 N. Wolfe Street

PCTB 805

Baltimore, MD 21205


Nathans Lab

The Nathans laboratory studies development of the mammalian central nervous system, with a particular emphasis on the retina and the vasculature.

In one set of studies the Nathans laboratory identified a signaling system in which glial-derived and/or neuron-derived ligands activate receptors on the surface of vascular endothelial cells to control vascular invasion and development.  Mutations in the genes coding for ligand, receptor, co-receptor, or co-activator proteins mediating these signals lead to defects in angiogenesis in the retina, brain, and/or spinal cord in genetically engineered mice.  In humans, similar mutations in a subset of these components lead to defects in retinal vascularization, manifesting as Norrie disease or familial exudative vitreoretinopathy.  Remarkably, the same signaling system also establishes and maintains the blood-retina barrier and the blood-brain barrier, vascular specializations that keep toxic compounds in serum out of the central nervous system.  A second interest of the Nathans laboratory is in a cell signaling system referred to as tissue polarity that controls epithelial patterning and which the Nathans laboratory discovered also plays a central role in multiple axon guidance decisions within both the central peripheral nervous systems. 

To facilitate these and other studies of nervous system development, the Nathans laboratory has developed a variety of genetic technologies for visualizing, purifying, and manipulating neurons, glia, and vascular cells.  These methods have been used to define neuronal morphologies, assess chromatin and DNA methylation patterns on a genome-wide scale, map the topography of X-chromosome inactivation, and alter signaling pathways in defined cell types at predefined times.  


To advance neuroscience discovery by uniting neuroscience, engineering and computational data science to understand the structure and function of the brain.