Lance Davidson

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Lance Davidson
Alma materUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (BS); York University, Toronto, Ontario (MS); University of California Berkeley (PhD)
Scientific career
Fieldsbioengineering, biophysics, developmental biology
InstitutionsUniversity of Virginia, University of Pittsburgh
Doctoral advisorsMimi R. Koehl, George F. Oster

Lance A. Davidson is an American bioengineer and developmental biologist at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is a William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering and director of the MechMorpho Laboratory. He holds secondary appointments in computational biology, systems biology, developmental biology, and at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh; and has an adjunct appointment in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Early life

Lance Davidson was born in Chicago, Illinois, and is the son of the American artist Nancy Davidson (artist).

Education and career

Davidson received his bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Illinois, a master's degree in Space Science from York University in Toronto, and PhD in biophysics from the University of California at Berkeley (working with Mimi R. Koehl and George F. Oster). His dissertation was titled: "The Biomechanics of Sea Urchin Primary Invagination."[1][2] His postdoctoral training was in cell and developmental biology with Raymond Keller and Douglas DeSimone.

Between completing his masters and beginning his PhD work, Davidson worked as a scientific analyst in Monterey, California. From his PhD thesis work through the present, his research interests include: the biophysics of embryonic development, the genetic and mechanical origins of birth defects, the role of physics in guiding and constraining evolution, and the role of the environment in embryonic robustness.

Davidson established his lab at the University of Pittsburgh in 2006. His group is known for their interdisciplinary collaborations and work on the physical mechanics of developing organisms, innovative microsurgical procedures, and experimental tools for mechanical stimulation and for directly measuring mechanical properties of sea urchin and aquatic frog embryos. In particular, Davidson's group has worked on multiscale mathematical and computational methods to couple molecular events in the cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix, to collective cellular processes, and to the generation and transmission of forces driving morphogenesis.

Awards and honors

  • 2022: MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health, Eunice Shriver Kennedy Institute of Child Health and Human Development.[3] [4] [5] [6]
  • 2018 - present: Instructor of the Cold Spring Harbor course "Cell & Developmental Biology of Xenopus: Gene Discovery and Disease."[7]
  • 2018: Elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)[8]
  • 2017: Speaker at the March for Science Pittsburgh[9]
  • 2013: Innovation in Education Award from the University of Pittsburgh Office of the Provost[10]
  • 2009: NSF CAREER Award[11]
  • 2008: American Heart Association Beginning Grant-in-Aid[12]
  • 1999: American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship[13]

Interviews, Podcasts, YouTube


  1. Davidson, Lance (1994). Biomechanics of Sea Urchin Primary Investigation. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  2. Davidson, Lance (1 July 1995). "How do sea urchins invaginate? Using biomechanics to distinguish between mechanisms of primary invagination". Development. 121 (7): 2005–2008. doi:10.1242/dev.121.7.2005. PMID 7635048. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  3. "Engineering the Organizer". National Institutes of Health. Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  4. "Biomechanics of Morphogenesis". National Institutes of Health. NIH RePORTER. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  5. "The mysterious mechanics of morphogenesis". EurekAlert. AAAS. September 26, 2022. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  6. "University of PIttsburgh Annual Research Report". Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research. University of Pittsburgh Office of Research. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  7. "Meetings & Courses Program". Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  8. "Dr. Lance Davidson Inducted into Medical and Biological Engineering Elite". AIMBE. American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  9. "CSB Members Attend March for Science". Computational Systems and Biology. University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 28 April 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  10. "Dr. Lance Davidson Awarded a 2013 Innovation in Education Excellence Award". McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  11. "CAREER: Physical Shaping of Multicellular Mesenchymal Tissues". U.S. National Science Foundation. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  12. "Lance A. Davidson, PhD". McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  13. "Lance A. Davidson, PhD". McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Retrieved 9 January 2024.

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