Jane & Marshall Steel Jr. Professor Emeritus in Marine Sciences
Cell and Developmental Biology
depel at stanford dot edu
Websites: Sea Urchin Embryology Virtual Urchin
David Epel earned his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. Using gametes from sea urchins, which are easily fertilized in vitro, his laboratory has provided important insights on how development is initiated at fertilization. Of special interest is the dormant metabolism of the egg, and how the activity of these cells is radically altered in the process of fertilization. Epel's research has shown that the changes that initiate egg development are a transient rise in free calcium and a permanent increase in intracellular pH.. This research has provided one of the most detailed descriptions of a developmental program, has relevance to assisted reproduction technology in humans and even has relevance to improvement of animal cloning.
Recently Epel has turned his attention to how development takes place in the marine environment, especially how embryos resist the effects of such environmental stresses as ultraviolet radiation, pathogens and natural and man-made toxins. Epel's group is looking at these questions from a cellular and molecular viewpoint, and finding unsuspected and novel adaptations that permit embryo survival in these potentially harsh environments. As regards protection from toxins, Epel's lab is focusing on the role of multidrug transporters in protecting embryos (and adults) from the adverse effects of natural and man-introduced toxins on developmental processes. Their work on protection from pathogens focuses on the role of symbiotic bacteria in protecting eggs from other microbes and fungi. Finally, their work on protection from UV damage is focused on the role of "sunscreens," natural pigments that are concentrated in eggs, to protect them from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation.
Professor Epel has been a Guggenheim Fellow, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the California Academy of Sciences. Other honors include awarding of the Cox Medal for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research at Stanford and the Ed Ricketts Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Marine Sciences.
Some recent publications:
Gilbert, S.F. and Epel, D. 2009. Ecological developmental biology : integrating epigenetics, medicine, and evolution. Sunderland, Mass. : Sinauer Associates.
Epel, D., Stevenson, C.A.,. MacManus-Spencer, L. A, Luckenbach T., and T. Smital. 2008. Efflux Transporters: Newly Appreciated Roles In Protection Against Pollutants. Environmental Science & Technology. 42:3914-3920.
Luckenbach, T. and Epel, D. 2008. ABCB and ABCC type transporters confer mutixenobiotic resistance and form an environment-tissue barrier in bivalve gills. American Journal Physiology : Regulatory Integrative & Comparative Physiology. 294:R1919-1929.
Hamdoun, A and Epel, D. 2007. Embryo stability and vulnerability in an always changing world. 2007. Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 104: 745-750.
Thurber, R.V. and Epel, D. 2007. Apoptosis in early development of the sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Developemental Biology. 303: 336-346
Sodergren, E. et al. 2006. The Genome of the Sea Urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Science. 314:941-952.
Goldstone .V, Hamdoun A, Cole B.J., Howard-Ashby M., Nebert D.W., Scally M., Dean M, Epel D, Hahn M.E., Stegeman J.J. 2006. The Cellular Defensome: Environmental sensing and response genes in the Strongylocentrotus purpuratus genome. Developmental Biology. 300; 366-384.
Stevenson, C.N., MacManus-Spencer, L.A., Luckenbach, T., Luthy, R.G. and D. Epel. 2006. New Perspectives on Perfluorochemical Ecotoxicology: Inhibition and Induction of an Efflux Transporter in the Marine Mussel, Mytilus californianus., Environmental Science & Technology. 40:781-787.
Luckenbach, T. and D. Epel 2005.Nitromusk and Polycyclic Musk Compounds as Long-Term Inhibitors of Cellular Xenobiotic Defense Systems Mediated by Multidrug Transporters. Environmental Health Perspectives. 113:17-24
Hamdoun, A., Cherr, G.N., Roepke, T. A., Foltz, K.R. and D. Epel, 2004. Activation of Multidrug Efflux Transporter Activity at Fertilization in Sea Urchin Embryos (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus), Developemental Biology. 276:413-423