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Seth Blackshaw, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Neuroscience



  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience
  • Joint Appointment in Ophthalmology

Centers & Institutes


  • Neuroscience
  • Ophthalmology

Contact for Research Inquiries

Phone: 443-287-5609


Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Neurogenetics, Obesity

Research Interests

Regulation of hypothalamic cell fate specification and function; Functional analysis of candidate regulators of cell specification and survival in retina; High throughput screening; Molecular basis of neuronal and glial cell fate specification and survival


Dr. Seth Blackshaw is an assistant professor of neuroscience, neurology and opthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Additionally, he serves as an assistant investigator in both the High Throughput Biology Center and the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins.

His work examines the molecular basis of neuronal and glial cell fate specification and survival. Dr. Blackshaw has catalogued all of the messenger RNAs expressed during development of the mouse retina. His research focuses on functionally characterizing the network of genes that control specification of different cell types within the retina. His goal is to extend these studies to an understanding of more elaborate brain structures, such as the hypothalamus, that are also critical regulators of behavior.

Dr. Blackshaw received a B.A. in biology and an M.S. in biochemistry from the University of Chicago in 1991. He completed his Ph.D. in neurosciences at Johns Hopkins in 1997 and subsequently conducted two postdoctoral fellowships, one in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins and a second in genetics at the Harvard University Medical School. He joined the Hopkins faculty in 2004.

Dr. Blackshaw has authored or co-authored more than 75 peer-reviewed publications and holds several patents and copyrights. His work has garnered numerous grants and awards, including the W. M. Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Scholar in Medial Research Award, the Klingenstein Fellowship, the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Award and the Ruth and Milton Steinbach Fund Award for Research in Macular Degeneration. He is a member of the Society for Developmental Biology and the Society for Neuroscience, and serves on the editorial boards of Biomolecules and Frontiers of Systems Biology. more

    Additional Information

  • Education +
    • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Maryland) (1997)

    Additional Training

    Harvard University Medical School, Boston, MA, 2004, Genetics; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 1999, Neuroscience
  • Research & Publications +

    Research Summary

    The Blackshaw lab studies the molecular basis of cell fate specification in vertebrate retina and hypothalamus. The retina develops from the hypothalamus and consists of seven major cell types; defects in proper differentiation of these cells can result in blindness. The hypothalamus is a central physiological regulatory center composed of many cell types that are critical for regulating behaviors including the sleep-wake cycle and appetite.

    To identify genes that control cell specification in the retina and hypothalamus, the research team has comprehensively profiled gene expressions throughout neurogenesis using both microarray and SAGE analysis. Additionally, the team has used high-throughput in situ hybridization to characterize expression patterns of more than 1,800 differentially expressed transcripts in both tissues. Current projects focus on analyzing the functions of those genes identified in the screen and using new markers to further characterize cell fate specification and differentiation in these tissues.


    Visit the Blackshaw Lab

    Selected Publications View all on PubMed

    1. Bedont JL, Legates TA, Slat EA, Byerly MS, Wang H, Hu J, Rupp AC, Qian J, Wong GW, Herzog ED, Hattar S, Blackshaw S. "Lhx1 controls terminal differentiation and circadian function of the suprachiasmatic nucleus." Cell Rep. 2014 May 8;7(3):609-22. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.03.060. Epub 2014 Apr 24.
    2. Pak T, Yoo S, Miranda-Angulo AM, Wang H, Blackshaw S. "Rax-CreERT2 knock-in mice: a tool for selective and conditional gene deletion in progenitor cells and radial glia of the retina and hypothalamus." PLoS One. 2014 Apr 3;9(4):e90381. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090381.
    3. Liu S, Lamaze A, Liu Q, Tabuchi M, Yang Y, Fowler M, Bharadwaj R, Zhang J, Bedont J, Blackshaw S, Lloyd TE, Montell C, Sehgal A, Koh K, Wu MN. "WIDE AWAKE mediates the circadian timing of sleep onset." Neuron. 2014 Apr 2;82(1):151-66. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.01.040. Epub 2014 Mar 13.
    4. Byerly MS, Swanson RD, Wong GW, Blackshaw S. "Stage-specific inhibition of TrkB activity leads to long-lasting and sexually dimorphic effects on body weight and hypothalamic gene expression." PLoS One. 2013 Nov 29;8(11):e80781. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080781. eCollection 2013.
    5. Lee DA, Salvatierra J, Velarde E, Wong J, Ford EC, Blackshaw S. "Functional interrogation of adult hypothalamic neurogenesis with focal radiological inhibition." J Vis Exp. 2013 Nov 14;(81):e50716. doi: 10.3791/50716.
  • Academic Affiliations & Courses +
  • Activities & Honors +


    • Summer Program Award, Telluride Association , 1986
    • National Merit Scholar Award, 1987
    • Phi Beta Kappa, 1991
    • Predoctoral Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute , 1991
    • Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute , 1999
    • Research Fellowship, Sloan Foundation , 2005
    • Research Grant, Whitehall Foundation , 2005
    • Award in the Neurosciences, Klingenstein Foundation , 2006
    • Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Award, March of Dimes, 2006
    • Distinguished Young Scholar in Medical Research Award, W. M. Keck Foundation , 2006
    • Ruth and Milton Steinbach Fund Award for Research in Macular Degeneration, 2007
    • Young Investigator Award, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression , 2007


    • Society for Developmental Biology
    • Society for Neuroscience

    Professional Activities

    • Editorial Board, Biomolecules, 2011
    • Editorial Board, Frontiers of Systems Biology, 2011
    • Guest Editor, PNAS, 2011
    • Guest Editor, PLoS Genetics, 2011
  • Videos & Media +
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