Cynthia A. Bradham, PhD
Associate Professor
Boston University College of Arts and Sciences

PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
BS, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Our research is focused on understanding secondary (dorsal-ventral) axis specification and skeletal patterning in the sea urchin. We are interested in producing a systems-level description for these processes. Sea urchin, a non-chordate deuterostome, is an ideal model organism for systems-level developmental studies. Genomic analysis has revealed that sea urchins share the diversity of signaling and transcriptional molecules with vertebrates, including humans, but lack the complexity associated with a duplicated genome. Further, sea urchin larvae are morphologically quite simple, being composed of approximately 15 cell types, and thus are accessible to detailed analysis of cell specification and cell-cell communication mechanisms. Finally, the use of gene regulatory networks to model developmental processes was pioneered in urchin, providing a strong precedent for this work. The lab is focused primarily on two projects: understanding how the dorsal-ventral axis is specified, and how the larval skeleton is patterned. We are pursuing these projects through a combination of molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, computational modeling, and systems biology approaches.

Spatiotemporal Regulation of Developmental Pattern Formation
12/15/2023 - 11/30/2028 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

The Molecular Basis for Skeletal Patterning
01/01/2017 - 08/31/2022 (PI)
National Science Foundation

The Molecular Basis for Skeletal Patterning in Sea Urchins
12/15/2012 - 01/31/2019 (PI)
National Science Foundation


Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Thomas CF, Hawkins DY, Skidanova V, Marrujo SR, Gibson J, Ye Z, Bradham CA. Voltage-gated sodium channel activity mediates sea urchin larval skeletal patterning through spatial regulation of Wnt5 expression. Development. 2023 May 15; 150(10). PMID: 37139779
  2. Hawkins DY, Zuch DT, Huth J, Rodriguez-Sastre N, McCutcheon KR, Glick A, Lion AT, Thomas CF, Descoteaux AE, Johnson WE, Bradham CA. ICAT: a novel algorithm to robustly identify cell states following perturbations in single-cell transcriptomes. Bioinformatics. 2023 May 04; 39(5). PMID: 37086439; PMCID: PMC10172037; DOI: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btad278;
  3. Descoteaux AE, Zuch DT, Bradham CA. Polychrome labeling reveals skeletal triradiate and elongation dynamics and abnormalities in patterning cue-perturbed embryos. Dev Biol. 2023 Jun; 498:1-13. PMID: 36948411
  4. Rodríguez-Sastre N, Shapiro N, Hawkins DY, Lion AT, Peyreau M, Correa AE, Dionne K, Bradham CA. Ethanol exposure perturbs sea urchin development and disrupts developmental timing. Dev Biol. 2023 Jan; 493:89-102. PMID: 36368523
  5. Hogan JD, Keenan JL, Luo L, Ibn-Salem J, Lamba A, Schatzberg D, Piacentino ML, Zuch DT, Core AB, Blumberg C, Timmermann B, Grau JH, Speranza E, Andrade-Navarro MA, Irie N, Poustka AJ, Bradham CA. The developmental transcriptome for Lytechinus variegatus exhibits temporally punctuated gene expression changes. Dev Biol. 2020 Apr 15; 460(2):139-154. PMID: 31816285
  6. Piacentino ML, Chung O, Ramachandran J, Zuch DT, Yu J, Conaway EA, Reyna AE, Bradham CA. Zygotic LvBMP5-8 is required for skeletal patterning and for left-right but not dorsal-ventral specification in the sea urchin embryo. Dev Biol. 2016 Apr 01; 412(1):44-56. PMID: 26905309
  7. Piacentino ML, Zuch DT, Fishman J, Rose S, Speranza EE, Li C, Yu J, Chung O, Ramachandran J, Ferrell P, Patel V, Reyna A, Hameeduddin H, Chaves J, Hewitt FB, Bardot E, Lee D, Core AB, Hogan JD, Keenan JL, Luo L, Coulombe-Huntington J, Blute TA, Oleinik E, Ibn-Salem J, Poustka AJ, Bradham CA. RNA-Seq identifies SPGs as a ventral skeletal patterning cue in sea urchins. Development. 2016 Feb 15; 143(4):703-14. PMID: 26755701
  8. Schatzberg D, Lawton M, Hadyniak SE, Ross EJ, Carney T, Beane WS, Levin M, Bradham CA. H(+)/K(+) ATPase activity is required for biomineralization in sea urchin embryos. Dev Biol. 2015 Oct 15; 406(2):259-70. PMID: 26282894
  9. Piacentino ML, Ramachandran J, Bradham CA. Late Alk4/5/7 signaling is required for anterior skeletal patterning in sea urchin embryos. Development. 2015 Mar 01; 142(5):943-52. PMID: 25633352
  10. van Heijster P, Hardway H, Kaper TJ, Bradham CA. A computational model for BMP movement in sea urchin embryos. J Theor Biol. 2014 Dec 21; 363:277-89. PMID: 25167787
Showing 10 of 22 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 22 publications over 12 distinct years, with a maximum of 7 publications in 2006


2018 Sea Urchin Embryo XXV: Organizer, International Conference for the Development of the Sea Urchin Embryo XXV
2017-2024 MBL, Woods Hole MA: Lecturer- Embryology Course Echinoderm Module
2011 Sea Urchin Embryo XX: Organizer, International Conference for the Development of the Sea Urchin Embryo XX
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5 Cummington St
Boston MA 02215
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