Faculty, Fellows and Students

Elena Semina, PhD

Elena Semina, PhD

Professor and Chair, Division of Developmental Biology
Department of Pediatrics
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226

(414) 955-4996 | Fax: (414) 955-6329

List of publications


PhD, National Center for Medical Genetics (Moscow, Russia), 1993
Postdoctoral, Research Centre for Medical Genetics of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
Postdoctoral, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

Research Area

Genes involved in embryonic development, with particular focus on ocular and craniofacial development. Lab information

Our research focuses on a broad spectrum of developmental ocular conditions ranging from anophthalmia and microphthalmia to anterior segment dysgenesis, glaucoma, and cataract, both isolated and syndromic. We seek to better understand the mechanisms behind these potentially debilitating conditions through the identification of causative mutations/genes in affected human pedigrees and characterization of their function and molecular pathways in cell and animal models. Characterization of factors involved in human disease leads to better understanding of the processes required for normal embryonic development in humans as well as other species. For families and their clinicians, identification of the disease-causing mutation supplies important information by providing a specific diagnosis, enabling more precise determination of recurrence risks, and identifying associated health risks which may need to be monitored.

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Yi Liu, PhD
  • Jian Zhang, PhD
  • Eric Weh, PhD

Developmental Biology Students

Brett DemlBrett Deml, a senior graduate student in Dr. Semina’s laboratory, joined the PhD program in Basic and Translational Sciences and IDP after four years of working in a clinical genetics lab and hopes to complete a Clinical Molecular Genetics fellowship after graduation. His project involves using whole exome sequencing to screen known genes and identify novel factors involved in anophthalmia (complete absence of the eye), microphthalmia (reduction in the size of the eye) and ocular coloboma (hole or gap in one or more structures of the eye). He successfully used TALEN Genome Editing to induce mutations in a gene of interest in zebrafish and generate a new animal model for microphthalmia and coloboma.

Kathryn HendeeKathryn Hendee, a graduate student in Dr. Semina's laboratory, is also a part of the PhD program in Basic and Translational Sciences and IDP. Her project focuses on study of the PITX transcription factor family and identification of novel genetic factors involved in anterior segment dysgenesis conditions. Her scientific passion is being in the lab performing experiments and making discoveries and she values the opportunity to see her work have a direct influence on improving the lives of patients.