Faculty and Research

Debra L. Silver, PhD
Assistant Professor
Duke Institute for Brain Sciences Investigator
research  biography • lab members • publications
lab website


Debby Silver received her B.S. in Biology from Tufts University in 1993. She then spent four years working with Dr. James Sellers at the NIH (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute), where she applied biochemistry to study the cytoskeletal protein, Myosin. For her graduate training with Dr. Denise Montell of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, she utilized Drosophila genetics to uncover genes regulating cell migration. She discovered an essential role for the JAK/STAT signaling complex in cell migration of Drosophila ovarian epithelial cells and human ovarian cancer cells. For her thesis work, she was recognized with several graduate student awards, including the national Weintraub award.

For her postdoctoral studies, Dr. Silver trained in mouse genetics and neural development with Dr. William Pavan of the National Human Genome Research Institute, where she studied genes regulating neural crest and neural stem cell development. Through the cloning and characterization of a novel mouse mutant, she uncovered a previously unappreciated requirement for an RNA binding complex in brain development, neural stem cells, and mitosis. Her postdoctoral research was funded by an NIGMS PRAT fellowship (Pharmacology Research and Training) and by an NINDS NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00).

In 2010, Dr. Silver joined the MGM Department at Duke University Medical Center. Her laboratory is interested in fundamental mechanisms of neural development and stem cells.  Using a multifaceted strategy the lab aims to connect the broad fields of stem cells, mitosis, and RNA biology, in the context of the developing brain. 

[Lab website]