Columbia University Medical Center


Wesley Grueber, PhD

Wesley Grueber, PhD
  • Department of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics
  • Department of Neuroscience
  • Professor of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics
  • Professor of Neuroscience

Co-Director, Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior

Dendrites and axons show extraordinarily diverse forms and modes of patterning, with important implications for nervous system wiring and neuronal function. Our lab is interested in how neurons acquire their type-specific morphology and organization and how this organization underlies circuit function. To approach this problem, we use molecular, genetic, anatomical, and behavioral approaches to identify the mechanisms that sculpt somatosensory circuits during development.

Using the fruit fly Drosophila we can dissect the mechanisms of nervous system patterning and function with cell type specificity.  For example we have recently identified the mechanisms that allow branches from the same cell to spread from each other to cover their appropriate territory, a basic feature of most or all neuronal arbors.  This process of “self-avoidance” is controlled by the highly diversified homophilic immunoglobulin superfamily member Dscam1, which, via alternative splicing into thousands of different isoforms, endows individual neurons with unique surface identities that allow for self-recognition and repulsion.  We recently showed that repulsion is also enforced by integrin receptors for the extracellular matrix.

Current interests in the lab include 1) identification of interneuron populations that transmit somatosensory information and the contribution of these neurons to behavior, 2)  the mechanisms that underlie specific connectivity between primary sensory neurons and target interneurons, 3) mechanisms of dendro-dendritic repulsion that mediate territory formation, and 4) understanding the molecular basis for morphological and functional decline of neurons and circuits during aging.

Education & Training

  • BS, 1993 Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine
  • PhD, 2000 Zoology, University of Washington
  • Postdoc, University of California, San Francisco
  • Primary Lab Locations

    Jerome L. Greene Science Center

    3227 Broadway
    New York, NY 10027

    (212) 853-1024
    (212) 305-5775

    Lab Website

    Teaching Responsibilities

    • Intro to Neural Development
    • Experimental Approaches in the Neural Sciences
    • Survey of Neuroscience

    Research Interests

    Axon Pathfinding and Synaptogenesis
    Synapses and circuits
    Neural Degeneration and Repair
    Cell Specification and Differentiation

    Lab Members

  • Samantha Galindo, Postdoc
  • Grace Shin, Associate Research Scientist
  • Shan Lu, Graduate Student
  • Rosa Bartoletti, Lab technician
  • Patricia Cooney, Graduate Student
  • Rebecca Vaadia, Graduate Student
  • Natalie Kolba, Undergraduate
  • Dylan Lee, Undergraduate
  • Aisha Saleem, Undergraduate
  • Publications

    • *Vaadia, R., *Li, W., Voleti, V., Singhania, A., #Hillman E.M.C., and #Grueber, W.B. (2019) Characterization of proprioceptive system dynamics in behaving Drosophila larvae using high-speed volumetric microscopy. Curr Biol 29:935-944.
    • Burgos A., Honjo K., Ohyama T., Qian C.S., Shin G.J., Gohl D.M., Silies M., Tracey W.D., Zlatic M., Cardona A., Grueber W.B. (2018) Nociceptive interneurons control modular motor pathways to promote escape behavior in Drosophila. eLife 2018;7:e26016 doi: 10.7554/eLife.26016.
    • Qian C.S., Kaplow M., Lee J.K., Grueber W.B. (2018).  Diversity of internal sensory neuron axon projections is controlled by the POU-domain protein Pdm3 in Drosophila larvae. J Neurosci. 38 (8):2081-2093.
    • Corty M.M., Tam J., and Grueber W.B. (2016). Dendritic diversification through transcription factor mediated suppression of alternative morphologies. Development 143:1351-1362.
    • Bouchard M.B., Voleti V., Mendes C.S., Grueber W.B., Mann R.S., Bruno R.M., Hillman E.M.C (2015) Swept confocally-aligned planar excitation (SCAPE) microscopy for high-speed volumetric imaging of behaving organisms. Nature Photonics 9:113-119.
    • Singhania, A, Grueber W.B. (2014) Development of the embryonic and larval peripheral nervous system of Drosophila. WIREs Developmental Biology 3:193-210.
    • Ziegenfuss J.S., Grueber W.B. (2013) SAX-7 and Menorin light the path for dendrite morphogenesis. Cell 155:269-271.
    • Grueber, W.B. (2013) Dendrite Development: Invertebrates, In: J.L.R. Rubenstein and P. Rakic editors: Comprehensive Developmental Neuroscience: Cellular Migration and Formation of Neuronal Connections, Amsterdam: Academic Press, pp. 191-212.
    • Zipursky, S.L., Grueber W.B. (2013) The molecular basis of self-avoidance. Ann Rev Neurosci. 26:547-568.
    • Kim M.E., Shrestha B.R., Blazeski R., Mason C.A., Grueber W.B. (2012) Integrins establish dendrite-substrate relationships that promote dendritic self-avoidance and patterning in Drosophila sensory neurons. Neuron 73:79-91.
    • Matthews B.J., Grueber W.B. (2011) Dscam1-mediated self-avoidance counters netrin-dependent targeting of dendrites in Drosophila. Curr Biol 21:1480-1487.
    • Hattori D., Chen Y., Matthews B.J., Salwinski L., Sabatti C., Grueber W.B., Zipursky S.L. (2009) Robust discrimination between self and non-self neurites requires thousands of Dscam1 isoforms. Nature 461:644-648.
    • Grueber W.B., Sagasti A. (2010) Self-avoidance and Tiling: Mechanisms of Dendrite and Axon Spacing. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a001750.
    • Zlatic M., Li F., Strigini M., Grueber W., Bate M. (2009). Positional Cues in the Drosophila Nerve Cord: Semaphorins Pattern the Dorso-Ventral Axis. PLoS Biol 7(6): e1000135.
    • Corty M.M., Matthews B.J., Grueber W.B. (2009). Molecules and mechanisms of dendrite development in Drosophila. Development 136:1049-1061.
    • Matthews B.J., Kim M.E., Flanagan J.J., Hattori D., Clemens J.C., Zipursky S.L., Grueber W.B. (2007). Dendrite self-avoidance is controlled by Dscam. Cell 129:593-604.