Rebekah M. Charney PhD

Rebekah Charney

Rebekah M. Charney

Assistant Professor

Department of Biochemistry

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Developmental Biology; Epigenetics; Gene Expression; Genomics and proteomics; Molecular and Cellular Biology; Molecular Basis of Disease; Neurodevelopmental Disorders; Stem Cells; Transcription Factors; Transcriptomics

Contact Information
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Room 4223
955 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 829-3073

Professional Summary:

The goal of my lab is to understand the causes of birth defects. We are particularly interested in malformations associated with an embryonic cell population called the neural crest, which contributes widely to the tissues and organs of the body including craniofacial tissue, neurons and glia of the peripheral nervous system, sympathoadrenal cells, melanocytes, and many others. Abnormal neural crest cell development is associated with numerous pathologies including craniofacial malformations like cleft lip and cleft palate, rare syndromes, and aggressive cancer. These pathologies are collectively known as neurocristopathies, and affect thousands of children born every year.

In the lab, we employ state-of-the-art genomic, proteomic, and patient-centric strategies to examine the gene regulatory networks underlying the neural crest cell lineage and the mechanistic causes of neural crest pathologies. We make use of human pluripotent stem cells to model human cell differentiation and couple this work with in vivo studies using the chick embryo. We also engage in collaborations to develop patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell lines to model neurocristopathies, and work with clinicians and patient organizations to remain on the cutting-edge of new discoveries that will allow us to advance human health.

Education and Training:

  • NIDCR K99 Pathway to Independence Award, University of California, Riverside (2020)
  • Fellowship, NIDCR F32, University of California, Riverside (2018)
  • PhD, Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine (2016)
  • Fellow, U.S. Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need, University of California, Irvine (2015)
  • Trainee, NSF IGERT, University of California, Irvine (2012)
  • BA, Political Science, UCLA, Cum Laude (2008)


  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, University at Buffalo (2023-present)
  • Assistant Project Scientist, Division of Biomedical Sciences, University of California, Riverside (2022–2023)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Biomedical Sciences, University of California, Riverside (2016–2022)

Awards and Honors:

  • K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award (2015)
  • Edward Steinhaus Teaching Award (2014)
  • Mentor-TA Award, HHMI-UCI Teaching Fellows Program (2013)
  • Graduate Fellow Award, HHMI-UCI Teaching Fellows Program (2012)

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • July 2022–June 2025
    Examining neurological disability in Mowat-Wilson syndrome using brain organoids
    The Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation
    Role: Principal Investigator

Journal Articles:

See all (3 more)

Books and Book Chapters:

  • Charney RM, Prasad MS, García-Castro MI. (2021) Current insights into neural crest cell development and pathologies. In: Diagnosis, Management and Modeling of Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Academic Press

Professional Memberships:

  • International Society for Stem Cell Research
  • Society for Craniofacial Genetics and Developmental Biology
  • Society for Developmental Biology

School News:

In the Media:

Clinical Specialties:

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Insurance Accepted:

Contact Information

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Room 4223
955 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 829-3073