Faculty/Staff Directory

Bruce Ostrow



Office Address
3307 Kindschi Hall of Science

Office Phone

Areas of Expertise
Developmental Biology

Courses Taught at GVSU

BIO 120 General Biology I
BIO 355 Human Genetics
BIO 375 Genetics
BIO 376 Genetics Lab
BIO 405 Cell and Molecular Biology
BIO 406 Cell and Molecular Biology Lab
BIO 422 Embryology
BIO 565 Modern Genetics
CMB 495 Perspectives and Issues in CMB
CMB 620 Cell and Tissue Culture

Research Interests

The major focus of my research is genetic control of morphogenesis - how genes control shape. One can study this huge question of biology in many ways using diverse model systems and exploratory techniques. I generally use molecular genetic techniques.

In 2007, I initiated an investigation into the development of the patagium in the southern flying squirrel, Glaucomys volans. A patagium is a thin flap of skin that stretches between the forelimbs and hindlimbs (see figure). Flying squirrels don’t really fly; they use the patagium as a parachute to glide from tree to tree. Other groups that have patagia are bats, flying lizards, flying lemurs, and gliding possums.

Little is known about development of the patagium or why it forms uniquely in bats, flying lizards, lemurs, possums, and squirrels. I hope to describe the formation of the patagium in G. volans and identify genes involved in its development. These genes are likely to be conserved in other species that possess a patagium so that once identified in flying squirrels, I can test expression of these genes in other gliding species. This knowledge will inform us about evolution of a unique structure that sets gliding species apart from almost all other mammals.

Of additional interest, G. volans has an extra rod of cartilage that extends laterally out from each wrist and helps to support and extend the leading edge of the gliding membrane. This structure, the styliform cartilage, is unique to the flying squirrels and its formation is likely to be related to development of the patagium. How is the styliform cartilage specified and formed? I hope to discover the mechanism of development of this unique anatomical structure.


Ph.D. in Cell, Molecular, and Structural Biology; Northwestern University, 1993.
B.A. in Marine Biology; Boston University, 1985.


Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, 1994-1996.

Recent Publications

Ostrow, B.D. 2006. Bald Eagle kills Crow chasing a Hawk. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 118:569-570.

Johnston, L.A.*, Ostrow, B.D.*, Jasoni, C.L., and Blochlinger, K.B.  1998. The homeobox-containing gene cut interacts genetically with the homeotic genes proboscipedia and Antennapedia.  Genetics. 149:131-142. *The order of the two first authors is alphabetical.

Ostrow, B.D., Chen, P., and Chisholm, R.L. 1994. Expression of a myosin regulatory light chain phosphorylation site mutant complements the cytokinesis and developmental defects of Dictyostelium RMLC null cells. J. Cell Biol. 127:1945-1955.   

Chen, P., Ostrow, B.D., Tafuri, S. R., and Chisholm, R.L. 1994. Targeted disruption of the Dictyostelium RMLC gene produces cells defective in cytokinesis and development. J. Cell Biol. 127:1933-1944. 

Recent Presentations

Ostrow, B.D., Grisby, E., Skronski, S., and Duesbery,,N. 2005. Studies of Protein Kinase N in Drosophila and Xenopus. Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters Annual Meeting.

Ostrow B.D., and Grisby, E. 2003. Study of delorean, a protein kinase N allele affecting wing morphology and male fertility. Midwest Regional Drosophila Meeting.

Ostrow B.D., and Momin K. 2001. The D. melanogaster mutation delorean is an allele of protein kinase N. 42nd Annual Drosophila Research Conference.

Ostrow B.D., and Momin K. 2000. Cloning of the Drosophila melanogaster mutation delorean, a putative homologue of a vertebrate transcription factor. Georgia Journal of Science 58:46A.

Ostrow B.D., and Momin K. 2000. Cloning of the D. melanogaster mutation delorean, a putative allele of protein kinase N. Southeast Regional Drosophila Research Conference.

Jasoni, C.L., Ostrow, B.D., and Blochlinger, K.B. 1996. Identification of genes interacting with the homeobox gene cut. 37th Annual Drosophila Research Conference:188A.

Ostrow, B.D., and Blochlinger, K.B. 1995. Screening for genes that are regulated by cut and genes that interact with cut. 36th Annual Drosophila Research Conference:335A.

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