Dr. Judy L. Leatherman, Assistant Professor

Gregory DeKrey

Previous positions

  • Postdoc: Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA (2004-2010)


  • Ph.D.: Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philidelphia, PA (2003)
  • B.S.: Biology and Chemistry, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA (1992)

Contact information

Courses taught | Research interests | Grants, awards, and professional honors | Peer-reviewed publications | Review articles | Recent presentations

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Courses taught

  • BIO 220, Genetics
  • BIO 521, Advanced Genetics
  • BIO 528, Developmental Biology

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Research interests

My research is in stem cell biology. My lab studies adult stem cells in the specialized microenvironment where they reside in the body, called the “niche”. We are interested in how stem cells are maintained in an undifferentiated state over the lifetime of the organism, and how the niche influences the choice between staying as a stem cell (“self-renewing”) or undergoing differentiation.

As a model system, my lab utilizes the well-defined stem cell niche in the testis of the fruit fly Drosophila. Here, stem cell activity leads to continual sperm production by male flies. We use classical and modern approaches for in vivo genetic manipulation, as well as standard molecular biology, biochemistry, and tissue culture approaches to explore the molecular basis of niche functioning. I also plan to initiate a project investigating the similarities between cancer cells and normal stem cells.

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Grants, awards and professional honors

External grant awards

  • 2005-2008: Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Postdoctoral Research.

Internal grant awards

  • 1996-2000: Recipient of Genetics Graduate Training fellowship, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.


  • 2008: Publication cited by the Faculty of 1000 (Leatherman and DiNardo, 2008).
  • 2004: Saul Winegrad Award for Outstanding Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.
  • 1988-92: Hans Herr Scholarship for Academic Excellence.

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Peer-reviewed research publications

  1. Leatherman, J.L. and S. DiNardo, Germline self-renewal requires cyst stem cells, while stat regulates niche adhesion in Drosophila testes. Nature Cell Biology, 2010, 12(8): 806-11.
  2. Leatherman, J.L. and S. Dinardo, Zfh-1 controls somatic stem cell self-renewal in the Drosophila testis and nonautonomously influences germline stem cell self-renewal. Cell Stem Cell, 2008, 3(1): 44-54. This article was highlighted in a Preview Article (Gilboa, L., 2008, Dev Cell 15, 5-6) and recommended by the Faculty of 1000.
  3. Leatherman, J.L., L. Levin, J. Boero, and T.A. Jongens, germ cell-less acts to repress transcription during the establishment of the Drosophila germ cell lineage. Curr Biol, 2002, 12(19): 1681-5.
  4. Leatherman, J.L., K.H. Kaestner, and T.A. Jongens, Identification of a mouse germ cell-less homologue with conserved activity in Drosophila. Mech Dev, 2000, 92(2): 145-53.
  5. Kelly, C., A.J. Chin, J.L. Leatherman, D.J. Kozlowski, and E.S. Weinberg, Maternally controlled (beta)-catenin-mediated signaling is required for organizer formation in the zebrafish. Development, 2000, 127(18): 3899-911.
  6. Robertson, S.E., T.C. Dockendorff, J.L. Leatherman, D.L. Faulkner, and T.A. Jongens, germ cell-less is required only during the establishment of the germ cell lineage of Drosophila and has activities which are dependent and independent of its localization to the nuclear envelope. Dev Biol, 1999, 215(2): 288-97.
  7. Shimazu, A., H.D. Nah, T. Kirsch, E. Koyama, J.L. Leatherman, E.B. Golden, R.A. Kosher, and M. Pacifici, Syndecan-3 and the control of chondrocyte proliferation during endochondral ossification. Exp Cell Res, 1996, 229(1): 126-36.
  8. Koyama, E., J.L. Leatherman, S. Noji, and M. Pacifici, Early chick limb cartilaginous elements possess polarizing activity and express hedgehog-related morphogenetic factors. Dev Dyn, 1996, 207(3): 344-54.
  9. Koyama, E., T. Yamaai, S. Iseki, H. Ohuchi, T. Nohno, H. Yoshioka, Y. Hayashi, J.L. Leatherman, E.B. Golden, S. Noji, and M. Pacifici, Polarizing activity, Sonic hedgehog, and tooth development in embryonic and postnatal mouse. Dev Dyn, 1996, 206(1): 59-72.

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Peer-reviewed review articles

  1. Leatherman, J.L. and T.A. Jongens, Transcriptional silencing and translational control: key features of early germline development. Bioessays, 2003, 25(4): 326-35.

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Recent presentations

Invited talks

  1. 51st Annual Drosophila Research Conference, April 2010
  2. Widener University, March 2010
  3. Princeton University Developmental Biology Colloquium, November 2009
  4. Cold Spring Harbor Stem Cell Biology Meeting, September 2009
  5. Midatlantic Regional Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology, College Park, MD, May 2009
  6. Drosophiladelphia (Philadelphia area Drosophila research club), University of Pennsylvania, June 2007
  7. Stem Cell Workshop, Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, May 2007
  8. 48th Annual Drosophila Research Conference, March 2007

Poster presentations

  1. Cold Spring Harbor Germ Cells Meeting, October 2008
  2. 67th Annual Society for Developmental Biology Meeting, July 2008
  3. 6th Annual International Society for Stem Cell Research Meeting, June 2008
  4. Keystone Symposia, Tumor Suppressors and Stem Cell Biology, February 2008
  5. Cold Spring Harbor Germ Cells Meeting, October 2006