The Stowers Institute For Medical Research



Lab Members




Stowers Institute

Trainor Lab Members
Paul Trainor


Neural crest cells are a multipotent migratory cell population that gives rise to an astonishing array of tissues during vertebrate development. This includes cartilage, bones, connective tissue, sensory neurons, glia, smooth muscle and pigment cells to name a few.
Malformations and syndromes that arise due to defects in neural crest cell development are collectively called neurocristopathies.
Research in the Trainor laboratory centers on neural crest cell development and disease. We seek to understand the mechanisms that regulate neural crest cell formation, migration, survival and differentiation and apply this basic knowledge to better understand the etiology and pathogenesis of birth defects as well as potentially develop therapeutic avenues for their prevention. We are particularly interested in craniofacial development and currently study neurocristopathies such as Treacher Collins syndrome, Holoprosencephaly and Syngnathia. However we are also investigating the roles of neural crest cells in the pathogenesis of Di George and Velocardiocfacial syndromes as well as Hirschsprung’s disease which affect the heart and gastrointestinal tract respectively.

William Munoz

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Neural crest cells form the neurons and glia of the sensory, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, smooth muscle cells, most craniofacial structures and contribute to various other tissues.  Given the contributions to such a variety of tissues, perturbations affecting the formation, migration or differentiation of neural crest cells have been shown to be involved in numerous diseases. My research focuses on the identification of novel genes necessary for proper mammalian neural crest cell development through the use of a forward genetic screen. Further, I will be investigating the mechanism(s) regulating the transition of neural stem cells into neural crest cells.

Carlo Donato Carvalho

Postdoctoral Research Associate

All craniates, which are animals that have a bony or cartilaginous skull, possess neural crest cells.  Neural crest cells are derived during embryogenesis from the neural ectoderm which delaminate and migrate over vast distances and give rise to a diverse array of cell types and tissues at all axial levels of the body. My research focuses on understanding the networks of genes that govern these properties of the neural crest during craniofacial and cardiopharyngeal development and disease.

Shawn Hall

Laboratory Manager I

My research is focused on the characterization of novel gene mutations that effect proper vasculature development and craniofacial morphogenesis. My research background is in biochemistry and proteomics which I also use to support lab members’ developmental work.

Kristin Watt

Postgraduate Researcher

My project involves using zebrafish as a model to study genes involved in cranialfacial development, specifically those related to Treacher-Collins syndrome.

Karla Terrazas

Predoctoral Researcher

Two years ago, I became fascinated by neural crest cells during a summer internship. Driven by my interest in this dynamic population of cells, I decided to join the Trainor lab. My interests lie not only in understanding the mechanisms of neural crest in general, but also applying that knowledge to understand and hopefully rescue diseases caused by anomalies in neural crest cells, such as Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS).

Melissa Childers

ResearchTechnician II



Stephen Shannon

Predoctoral Researcher

I first became interested in neural crest cells in learning how a mutation in a gene, such as Tcof1, can give rise to a complex phenotype like TreacherCollins. My project in the lab focusses on identifying the localization of the treacle phosphoprotein in mouse embryos from e7.5 to e11.5.

Carolyn Randolph

Senior Administrative Assistant

I have been the senior administrative assistant in the Trainor Lab since May 2007. My responsibilities include the efficient operations of the lab on a daily basis.