Bryan C. Bjork, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Downers Grove, IL

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Dr. Bjork received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 2001. He completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brigham & Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School Division o Genetics in 2011. He began his teaching and independent research career at Midwestern University in 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry. He earned Tenure in 2017 and was promoted to Associate Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics in 2018.

Associate Professor

Downers Grove, IL

Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine
College of Dental Medicine-Illinois
Chicago College of Optometry
College of Graduate Studies - IL

Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics

Biomedical Sciences (M.A.)
Biomedical Sciences (M.B.S.)
Dental Medicine
Osteopathic Medicine
Physician Assistant Studies

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The University of Iowa | 2001 | Ph.D.
Augustana College (IL) | 1994 | B.A.

Courses Taught

CHS-PA Program

BIOCD 0551: Human Biochemistry, Lecturer
BIOCD 0552: Clinial Biochemisty and Nutrition, Lecturer
BIOCD 0581: Human Genetics, Course Director and Lecturer

CGS-Biomedical Sciences

BIOCD 0510/0560: Biochemistry I, Lecturer
BIOCD 0520/0570: Biochemistry II, Lecturer,
BIOCD 0530/0580: Human Genetics, Course Director and Lecturer


BIOCD 1554: Biochemistry I, Lecturer
BIOCD 1555: Biochemistry II, Lecturer


BIOCD 1501: Human Clinical Biochemistry and Metabolism, Workshop facilitator
BIOCD 1502: Biochemistry of Nutrition and Molecular Genetics in Human Development, Lecturer and Workshop facilitator


IBSSD 1520: Cell Function, Lecturer


My research program focuses on the etiology that underlies onset of human and mouse craniofacial birth defects. One focus is the developmental and molecular characterization of cleft palate in loss of function mouse mutants for the paralogous transcription factors, Prdm16 and Mecom, in addition to several other novel clefting mutants. Another component of these studies is the morphometric analysis of these craniofacial mouse mutants via µCT scanning to detect mutation and strain dependent variation in craniofacial and cranial bones in collaboration with Dr. Erin Leslie (Dept. of Anatomy). When possible, we aim to develop and utilize strategies for rapid analysis of loss-of-function phenotypes for positionally-cloned genes using RNAi, targeted conditional gene trap and CRISPR-Cas9.


1.    Hall, E.G., L.W. Wenger, N.R. Wilson, S.S. Undurty-Akella, J. Standley, E-A. Augustine-Akpan, Y.A. Kousa, D.S. Acevedo, J.P. Goering, L. Pitstick, N. Natsume, S.M. Paroya, T.D. Busch, M. Ito, A. Mori, H. Imura, L.E. Schultz-Rogers, E.W. Klee, D. Babovic-Vuksanovic, S.A. Kroc, W.L. Adeyemo, M.A. Eshete, B.C. Bjork, S. Suzuki, J.C. Murray, B.C. Schutte, A. Butali, I. Saadi. (2020) SPECC1L regulates palate development downstream of IRF6. Hum. Mol. Genet. 29(5): 845-858.

2.    He, L., J. Jones, W. He, B. Bjork, J. Wen, Q. Dai. (2019) PRDM16 establishes lineage-specific transcriptional program to promote temporal progression of neural progenitors in the mouse neocortex. bioRxiv 573857; doi:

3.    Strassman, A., F. Schnutgen, J. Jones, A.C. Gomez, L. Pitstick, N. Holton, R. Moskal, E. Leslie, Q. Dai, H. von Melchner, D.R. Beier and B.C. Bjork. (2017) Generation of a multipurpose Prdm16 allele by targeted trapping. Dis. Mod. Mech. 10: 909-922.

4.    Wilson, N., A. Olm-Shipman, E. Kosa, D. Acevedo, K. Stumpff, G. Smith, L. Pitstick, E.C. Liao, B.C. Bjork, A. Czirok and I. Saadi. (2016) SPECC1L deficiency results in increased adherens junction stability and reduced cranial neural crest cell delamination. Sci. Rep. doi: 


2000-present    Member, American Society of Human Genetics
2013-present    Member, Society of Developmental Biology
2004-present    Member, Society of Craniofacial Genetics and Developmental Biology
2017-present    Member, American Association of Anatomists


Previous Extramural Funding:

NIH R15 DE023982                                                  Bjork (PI)                                                                   07/01/14-06/30/18
“Prdm16 and Mecom during mouse embryonic mandible and palate development”                                                $446,940
This grant was awarded to assess the mechanism of clefting observed in Prdm16 null mutants and determine the phenotypic consequences of loss of Mecom in the secondary palate or mandible prior to palate formation (Aim 1). Context-specific Prdm16- and Mecom-dependent gene transcripts and direct transcriptional targets will be identified using comparative transcriptional profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) studies in wild type versus null mutant embryonic craniofacial tissues (Aim 2). Finally, the hypothesis that “Prdm16 and Mecom genetically interact” will be tested by intercross breeding of each null strain and then double heterozygous mice to generate embryos representing all allelic combinations for phenotypic assessment of craniofacial development (Aim 3).
Role: PI

NIH/NIDCR 5K12DE014528                                  Stashenko (PI)                                                               12/2006-7/2008
The Harvard-SDM/Forsyth Scholar/Faculty Development Program (HFSFDP) is a training and career development program based on a regional consortium of four academic institutions (Harvard School of Dental Medicine [HSDM], Forsyth Institute [FI], University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine [UPSDM] and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine [TUSDM]) to create a mentored clinical scientist development pathway to develop highly skilled clinician scientists (DDS/DMD, MD and PhD) who can successfully address the increasing opportunities in oral, dental and craniofacial research from cross-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary perspectives. Dr. Bjork was awarded two years of funding as part of this faculty development program for “Characterization of cpo1, a mouse cleft palate mutation”, in which aims were proposed to molecularly characterize the cpo1 mutant, generate a targeted null allele of Prdm16 and develop loss of function mouse models for validation of positionally cloned mutations.
Role: PI of Postdoctoral Career Development Award

NIH/NICHD 5F32HD045066                                    Bjork (PI)                                                                     08/2003-07/2006
Ruth L. Kirshstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship
“Genetic and Developmental Analysis of a Mouse Model for Non-syndromic Cleft Secondary Palate”
This grant was awarded for the positional cloning and initial molecular and phenotypic characterization of the novel ENU-induced cleft palate only 1 (cpo1) mouse cleft palate mutant.
Role: PI