Bryan C. Bjork, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Dr. Bryan BjorkChicago College of Osteopathic Medicine
College of Dental Medicine - Illinois
Department of Biochemistry
Midwestern University
421-H Science Hall
555 31st St.
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Office: 630-515-6032


EDUCATION (Curriculum Vitae)

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

Current Funding

NIH/NIDCR (R15DE023982): Prdm16 and Mecom in mouse embryonic mandible and palate Development. July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2017.


Identification and characterization of genes critical during normal craniofacial development

Non-syndromic clefting (NSCL/P) is one of the most common human birth defects.  It has a complex etiology with both genetic and environmental contributions.  Although embryologic studies in model organisms, along with human genetic studies, have provided insight into this complexity, understanding of the developmental and genetic basis for normal palate development remains incomplete. We are able to study abnormal craniofacial development in a systematic fashion using mouse strains carrying heritable Mendelian mutations. Random single base pair mutations in mice introduced upon exposure to Ethyl-nitroso-urea (ENU) are often strong models of human gene mutations. My lab studies a number of different mouse mutations that model human craniofacial defects as entry points into the understanding of specific genes whose functions and interactions in genetic pathways are essential to normal craniofacial development, primarily the lip and palate.  

Major research interests:  

Project I: This research program is funded by the NIH/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and aims to understand the developmental and molecular mechanisms in which the transcription factor, PRDM16, participates during normal craniofacial development. Prdm16 loss-of-function mutations cause Pierre Robin Sequence-type cleft palate (CP), a form of CP exhibiting mandibular hypoplasia and glossoptosis. We aim to identify genes whose expression change in the absence of Prdm16 expression during embryonic palate, mandible and tooth development using these Prdm16 mutants. Tissue- and temporal-specific gene knockout breeding strategies and Next-Generation sequencing methods will be employed. We will also investigate the role of the Prdm16 paralog, Mecom, during craniofacial development and will validate preliminary data showing that Mecom loss-of-function mutations alone and in combination with Prdm16 mutations cause CP.  

Project II: In addition to Prdm16 and Mecom mutants, we are characterizing several additional ENU-induced craniofacial mouse mutants. We previously identified the ctcp mutation in the Fat4 gene, and recently, we identified causative gene mutations in the nd24 and little chin CP mutants using Next Generation whole-exome sequencing. Developmental and molecular characterization of these mouse models of clefting is currently underway.   

Genetic mapping/PCR genotyping, Mutation detection, Gene knockout vector construction, RNA-seq, Chromatin-Immunoprecipitation (ChIP), in situ hybridization, Real-time qPCR expression analysis, Western blotting, Immunuofluorescence, Histology


Selected Research Publications (See PubMed results)

Strassman, A.F., F. Schnutgen, J.Jones, A.C. Gomez, L. Pitstick, N. Holton, R. Moskal, E. Leslie, Q. Dai, H. von Melchner, D.R. Beier, B.C. Bjork (2017) Generation of a multipurpose Prdm16 allele by targeted trapping. Dis. Mod. Mech. 10: 909-922.
Wilson, N.A., 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.
Letra, A., B. Bjork, M.E. Cooper, H. Szabo-Rogers, R.W.B. Deleyiannis,L.L. Field, A.E. Czeizel, L. Ma, G.P. Garlet, F.A. Poletta, J.C.Mareb, J.S. Lopez-Camelo, E.E. Castilla, I.M. Orioli, S. Wendell,S.H. Blanton, K. Liu, J.T. Hecht, M.L. Marazita, A.R. Vieira and R.M. Silva. Association of AXIN2 with non-syndromic oral clefts in multiple populations. (2012) J Dent Res. 91(5): 473-8.
Bjork, B.C., S.W. Davis, Y. Fujiwara, H. Qiu, T. Saunders, P.J. Sandy, S.Orkin, S.A. Camper and D.R. Beier. (2011) Utilization of transient transgenic RNAi for rapid characterization of gene function during embryonic development. PLoS One. 5(12): e14375.
*Kamp, A. *M. Peterson, K. Svenson, B.C. Bjork, K. Hentges, T.W. Rajapaksha, J. Moran, M. Justice, J. Seidman, C.E. Seidman, I. Moskowitz and D.R. Beier. (2010) Phenotype-based identification of mouse congenital heart disease mutants. Hum Mol Genet. 19: 3105-3113.
Letra, A.,R. Menezes, R.F. Fonseca, M. Govil, T. McHenry, M.J. Murphy, J.D. Hennebold, J.M. Granjeiro, E.E. Castilla, I.M. Orioli, R. Martin, M.L. Marazita, B.C. Bjork, A.R. Vieira (2010). Fine mapping of chromosome 6q allows identification of novel cleft genes. J. Dent Res. 89: 927-932.
*Stottman, R.S., *B.C. Bjork, J.B. Doyle, and D.R. Beier (2010). A Van der Woude syndrome mutation in Irf6 causes clefting in the cleft palate 1 mouse mutant. Genesis. 48:303-308.
Bjork, B.C., A. Turbe-Doan, M. Prsyak and B.J. Herron and D.R. Beier (2010). Prdm16 is required for normal palatogenesis in mice. Hum Mol Genet. 19: 774-789.
Seale, P., B. Bjork, Y. Yang, S. Kajimura, S. Chin, S. Kuang, A. Scime, S. Devarakonda, H.M. Conroe, H. Erdjument-Bromage, P. Tempst, M.A. Rudnicki, D.R. Beier, B.M. Spiegelman (2008). PRDM16 controls a brown fat/skeletal muscle switch. Nature. 454(7207): 961-7.
Beckstead, W.A., B.C. Bjork, D.R. Beier and S. Sunyaev (2008). SNP2RFLP: A computational tool to facilitate genetic mapping using benchtop analysis of SNPs. Mammalian Genome. 19(10-12): 687-90.
*Kondo S., *B.C. Schutte, $B.C. Bjork., $R.J. Richardson, A.S. Knight, Y. Watanabe, E. Howard, R.L. Ferreira De Lima, S. Daack-Hirsch, A. Sander, D.M. McDonald-McGinn, E.H. Zackai, E.J. Lammer, A.S. Aylsworth, H.H. Ardinger, A.C. Lidral, B.R. Pober, L. Moreno, M. Arcos-Burgos, C. Valencia, C. Houdayer, M. Bahuau, D. Moretti-Ferreira, A. Richieri-Costa, M.J. Dixon, J.C. Murray (2002). Mutations in IRF6 cause Van der Woude and popliteal pterygium syndromes. Nat Genet 32(2): 285-289.

Education publications

Van Winkle, L.J., P. Burdick, B.C. Bjork, N. Chandar, J.M. Green, S.M. Lynch, S. La Salle, S. Viselli and C. Robson (2014) Critical thinking and reflection on community service for a medicalbiochemistry course raise students' empathy, patient-centered orientation, and examination scores. Med. Sci. Educ. 24: 279-290.
Van Winkle, L.J., S. La Salle, L. Richardson, B.C. Bjork, P. Burdick, N. Chandar, J.M. Green, S.M. Lynch, C. Robson and S. Viselli (2013) Challenging medical students to confront their biases: a case study simulation approach. Med. Sci. Educ. 23(2): 217-224.
Van Winkle, L.J., S. Cornell, N. Fjjortoft, B.C. Bjork, N. Chandar, J.M. Green, S. La Salle, S. Viselli, P. Burdick and S.M. Lynch (2013) Critical thinking and reflection exercises in a biochemistry course to improve prospective health professions students' attitudes toward physician pharmacist collaboration. Am. J. Pharm. Educ. 77(8): Article 169.
Van Winkle, L.J., B.C. Bjork, N. Chandar, S. Cornell, N. Fjortoft, J.M. Green, S. La Salle, S.M. Lynch, S. Viselli and P. Burdick (2012) Interprofessional workshop to improve mutual understanding between pharmacy and medical students. Am. J. Pharm. Educ. 76(8): Article 150.


Selected lectures and facilitation of Team-based workshops in:

Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM):

Chicago College of Pharmacy (CCP):

College of Dental Medicine - Illinois (CDMI)

Integrated Basic Science Sequence (IBSS):

College of Health Sciences (CHS):