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Brian Nelms


As a graduate student, Dr. Nelms was a member of the lab of Dr. Wendy Hanna-Rose, where he used the small nematode worm C. elegans as a model system for studying genetic regulation of organogenesis. After finishing his Ph.D. work, he moved to Nashville to begin postdoctoral work with Dr. Patricia Labosky at Vanderbilt and broaden his perspective beyond C. elegans. During his postdoctoral fellowship, part of which was supported by an American Heart Association fellowship award, he investigated the role of the transcription factors Foxd3 and Pax3 in the development of the cardiac neural crest in mice, and engineered transgenic mouse lines and mouse embryonic stem cells to assist in studies of Foxd3.

Now at Fisk, he is pursuing his love of both teaching and research. He has developed and taught courses in Developmental Biology and in Biotechnology/Molecular Biology. For his undergraduate- and Masters-level research program at Fisk, he has returned to using the ideally suited C. elegans as a model system and has ongoing research projects examining the role of a group of genes encoding forkhead transcription factors (“Fox” genes in mammals) in C. elegans neuron development.

Dr. Nelms serves as the Director of Graduate Studies in Biology at Fisk University and is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, as part of his involvement as a faculty member in the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD program (


Brian L. Nelms and Patricia A. Labosky. “A predicted hairpin cluster correlates with a barrier to PCR, sequencing, and possibly BAC recombineering.” Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group), 2011, October 4, 1(106).

Brian L. Nelms, Elise R. Pfaltzgraff, Patricia A. Labosky. “Functional interaction between Foxd3 and Pax3 in cardiac neural crest development.” Genesis: The Journal of Genetics and Development, 2011, January 49:10-23. (chosen for Highlighted Article)

Brian L. Nelms and Patricia A. Labosky. “Transcriptional control of neural crest development.” (Book) Colloquium Series on Developmental Biology, editor Daniel Kessler, 2010 Morgan and Claypool Life Sciences

Brian L. Nelms and Wendy Hanna-Rose. “C.elegans HIM-8 functions outside of meiosis to antagonize EGL-13 Sox protein function”. Developmental Biology, 2006, May 15, 293(2):392-402

Hongliu Sun, Brian L. Nelms, Sama F. Sleiman, Helen M. Chamberlin, and Wendy Hanna-Rose. “Modulation of C. elegans transcription factor activity by HIM-8 and the related zinc finger ZIM proteins.” Genetics, 2007, October 177(2);1221-6

Brian Nelms

Brian Nelms
Assistant Professor of Biology

BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Penn State University
BS in Spanish, Penn State University
PhD in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology, Penn State University
Postdoctoral Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the Dept. of Cell & Developmental Biology/Center for Stem Cell Biology/Program in Developmental Biology, in the laboratory of Patricia Labosky, PhD