Image Monte Westerfield
Monte Westerfield
Ph.D. Physiology and Pharmacology, Duke University
A.B. Physics and Biology, Princeton University

Research Interests


Our laboratory studies the molecular genetic basis of human diseases, particularly Usher syndrome, the leading cause of combined deafness and blindess, and other diseases of the eye and ear. 

We use zebrafish and a combination of anatomical, physiological, molecular, and genetic techniques. The goal of our research is to identify disease-causing genes, to elucidate what goes wrong during disease, and to develop preclinical trials for new therapies. 

Current research focuses on developing models of human disease. In particular, we are making and studying models of Usher syndrome.

Our research is funded by the National Eye Institute, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health. We also thank the The Usher 1F Collaborative and the Usher Syndrome Society for generous donations to the Usher Syndrome Research Fund that supports our work.

Contribute to the Usher Syndrome Research Fund.

Some Recent Publications:

  • Schellens, R.T.W., et al., (2022). Affinity purification of in vivo assembled whirlin-associated protein complexes from the zebrafish retina. J Proteomics, 266, 104666.
  • Baranasic, D., et al., (2022). Multiomic atlas with functional stratification and developmental dynamics of zebrafish cis-regulatory elements. Nat Genet, 2022. 54(7), 1037-1050.
  • Ravenscroft, T.A., et al., (2021). Heterozygous loss-of-function variants significantly expand the phenotypes associated with loss of GDF11. Genet Med23(10), 889-1900.
  • Blanco-Sanchez, B., A. Clement, S.J. Stednitz, J. Kyle, et al., (2020). yippee like 3 (ypel3) is a novel gene required for myelinating and perineurial glia development. PLoS Genet16(6) e1008841.
  • Burrage et al. (2019). Bi-allelic Variants in TONSL Cause SPONASTRIME Dysplasia and a Spectrum of Skeletal Dysplasia Phenotypes. Am J Hum Gen104, 422-438.
  • Clément, A., B. Blanco Sanchéz, J. Pierce, and M. Westerfield. (2019). Cog4 is required for protrusion and extension of the epithelium in the developing semicircular canals. Mech Dev, 155, 1-7.
Prospective Graduate Students: The Westerfield Lab is not accepting new graduate students at this time.

Lab Members

Doug Howe
Research Staff
Ryan Martin
Research Staff
Jen Phillips
Research Staff
Erin Quinn
Research Staff
Sridhar Ramachandran
Research Staff
Ryan Taylor
Research Staff


Judith Eisen
Development of vertebrate nervous system with a focus on interactions between the nervous system, immune system, and host-associated microbiota
Adam Miller
Neural circuit wiring, synapse formation, and electrical synaptogenesis in zebrafish.
John Postlethwait
Developmental genetics and the evolution of developmental mechanisms
Philip Washbourne
Developmental neuroscience with a focus on social behavioral circuits