Dr. Moody received her MS in Anatomy from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Florida School of Medicine. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Marcus Jacobson at the University of Utah School of Medicine Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy where she studied axon guidance and learned cell lineage analysis in Xenopus embryos. As a trainee, supported by T32, AAUW, F31 and F32 fellowships, she studied synapse formation, trigeminal motor neuron migration and axon outgrowth, differentiation of neural crest and placode-derived sensory neurons, and cell lineages of motor and sensory neurons. In 1983, she joined the faculty of the Anatomy and Cell Biology Department at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and in 1992 moved her laboratory to the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, where she is currently Professor and Chair. Faculty awards include March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Scholarship Research Fellowship, Alfred P. Sloan Neuroscience Research Fellowship, NINDS Research Career Development Award (K04), GWU SMHS Distinguished Researcher Award, GWU CCAS Award for Excellence in Graduate Advising, and elected Fellow of the American Association for Anatomy.
Her research focuses on the molecular interactions that control the formation and differentiation of the developing nervous system. She has published >130 peer-reviewed publications on several topics including the roles of cell-cell signaling and transcription factors in the specification of neuronal fates in the neural tube, retina and cranial sensory placodes; most of this work includes comprehensive study of their effects on gene expression and mapping protein functional domains. Early in her career she made the complete fate maps of the Xenopus embryo blastomeres from the 2- to 32-cell stages. These are used by investigators world-wide to target gene expression manipulations to specific lineages, are featured on the international Xenopus database (Xenbase), are taught at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory “Cell and Developmental Biology of Xenopus” course, and are reprinted in: Sive HL, Grainger RM, Harland RM. 2000. “Early Development of Xenopus laevis: A Laboratory Manual.” Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. Her laboratory used these fate maps to delineate the roles of lineage and cell-cell signaling in cell fate determination of a variety of neural tissues, to discover many new genes involved in a variety of neural developmental processes, and use targeted loss-of-function techniques to understand their function. Her lab has identified numerous novel proteins involved in gene transcription, and performed structure-function analyses to understand the role of different protein domains.
A major focus in recent years, and topic of current funding, is understanding how cranial sensory placodes develop and discover new molecules involved in craniofacial birth defects. Her research was the first to: clone the Six1 gene in Xenopus; establish that it plays a major role in forming the vertebrate pre-placodal ectoderm; show that the vertebrate protein functions as both a transcriptional activator and repressor via different co-factors; and demonstrate that it regulates neurogenic genes during cranial sensory ganglion formation. In recent years she began collaborative studies utilizing: 1) the mouse model to address craniofacial developmental issues; and 2) human Whole-Genome Sequencing to discover novel genes underlying branchio-oto-renal syndrome.
During her career, she has been very involved in the didactic and research training of students of all levels. She was Director of an NIH T32 program at the University of Virginia, Director of the GWU Neuroscience Ph.D. Program and Associate Director of the GWU Institute for Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Programs. Her former Ph.D. students did postdoctoral work at Harvard, Stanford, NIH, Burnham Institute and Johns Hopkins, and all are currently either faculty or work in a science-related industry. She was co-Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s “Cell and Developmental Biology of Xenopus” course, taught in the summer “Neurobiology” course at the Marine Biology Laboratory and was an Instructor in the Latin American Society for Developmental Biology's “Embryology” course in Chile. She has extensive experience as a journal editor, book editor and leader in several scientific societies.
Scopus h-index: 39