Deborah Garrity Professor and Department Chair

Office: Biology 230

Phone: (970) 491-2513


  • Ph.D., Cornell University


The development of the embryonic heart involves both genetic and biomechanical factors. To study how rhythm and function develops in the embryonic heart, we use the zebrafish model to track changes as the heart forms, under normal or abnormal conditions. Our group has an ongoing interest in the contributions of T-box transcription factors, calcium channel subunits, and the sodium-calcium exchanger (NCX1) for establishing normal rhythm and contractility in the heart. Recently, we have become interested in how biomechanical forces (e.g. blood flow and contractility), which are not directly encoded by gene products, nevertheless contribute to normal development of this organ. We have developed imaging-based tools to capture and quantitatively analyze physiological parameters of heart function. Combining these tools with forward and reverse genetics, we hope to understand the timing, scope and regions of the heart most impacted by biomechanical forces.