Grant Mastick, Ph.D.

Professor, Co-Director of Neuroscience BS Program, Co-Director Integrative Neuroscience Graduate Program, Co-Director Cell Biology Center for Biomedical Research Excellence
Grant Mastick

Contact Information


  • Alma College, MI, B.S. Biology, Chemistry, 1986
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Ph.D. Biological Sciences, 1992
  • University of Michigan, Postdoctoral Fellow, Developmental Neurobiology, 1992-1998

Research Interests:

To build a brain, the embryo must produce a spatially organized array of a vast number of neurons, then interconnect them. Our research group uses genetic and molecular approaches in mouse and chick embryos to investigate the functions of specific genes in brain development. This research has implications for the molecular therapy of neurological disease and injury, and is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Our current research is on the migration of neurons and their axons through the developing brain. We investigate how molecular signals guide axons to migrate precisely long distances on longitudinal pathways, how cranial nerves grow out to connect to muscles, and also how neuron cell bodies settle in specific positions.  Our studies focus on a system of signals, the Slit/Robo repellents and the Netrin attractants, to understand the mechanisms by which opposing signals are integrated by neurons.

Research Areas:
Neuroscience; Genetics; Cell Biology; Developmental Biology

Currently in the Mastick lab:

  • Minkyung Kim, PhD.  Research Assistant Professor.  Motor neuron migration; Longitudinal axon guidance.
  • Brielle Bjorke, PhD.  Postdoctoral Fellow. Oculomotor neuron development and migration.
  • Clare Lee, Research assistant.  Motor neuron migration.
  • Eric Robinson, BS/MS Biotechnology student.  Oculomotor nerve development.
  • John Pietz, Chemistry major.  Motor nerve development.
  • Christian Mohino, Biology major.  Motor nerve development.
  • Michelle Vesser, Davidson High School student, Oculomotor nerve development

Recent Graduates:
Farnaz Shoja-Taheri, PhD, CMB.  Postdoctoral fellow, UC Davis.
Katherine Weller, MS, CMB.  Biotech, Colorado.
Hannah Jordan Gruner, MS, CMB.  PhD student, UNR.
Arielle Demarco, Biotechnology BS/MS.  Hamilton, Reno.
Siavash Mojibian, Neuroscience major.  Pharmacy School, Rutgers.
Tatiana Fontelonga, Biotechnology BS/MS.  PhD student, UNR.
Stacey Wong.  Biochemistry BS/MD early admission; Class of 2015, UN School of Medicine. 
Suman Gurung (Biotechnology BS/MS Degree Program, 2012.)  PhD student, Biological Sciences, U Missouri.
Christine Schlemmer, Neuroscience BS, 2012.  Class of 2016, UN School of Medicine.
Joshua Catapano, Biology BS, 2011.  Class of 2016, UN School of Medicine.
Leila Nakhaee, Neuroscience BS 2013.  Physician Assistant student, UC Davis.


  • Minkyung Kim, Andrew P Roesener, Philipe RF Mendonca, Grant S Mastick.  Robo1 and Robo2 have distinct roles in pioneer longitudinal axon guidance.  Developmental Biology 358:181-188.  (2011).  
  • Arlene Bravo-Ambrosio, Grant S. Mastick, and Zaven Kaprielian.  Motor axon exit from the mammalian spinal cord is controlled by the homeodomain protein Nkx2.9 via Robo-Slit signaling.  Development.  2012 Apr;139(8):1435-46. (2012).
  • Claudia M. García-Peña, Minkyung Kim, Daniela Frade, Daniela Ávila, Elisa Téllez, Grant S. Mastick, Elisa Tamariz, and Alfredo Varela-Echavarría.  Ascending Midbrain Dopaminergic Axons Require Descending GAD65 Axon Fascicles for Normal Pathfinding.  Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 8:43. June 2014. Link
  • Jingwen Wu , Chong Tang , Jianqiang Bao , Minkyung Kim , Shuiqiao Yuan , Huili Zheng , Grant S. Mastick , Chen Xu , Wei Yan.  Two miRNA clusters, miR-34b/c and miR-449, are essential for normal brain development, motile ciliogenesis and spermatogenesis.  2014. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111(28):E2851-7.
  • Minkyung Kim*, W. Todd Farmer*, Brielle Bjorke, Samuel A McMahon, Pierre J. Farbe, Frederic Charron, and Grant S. Mastick.  Longitudinal axons navigate using a balance of Netrin attraction and Slit repulsion.  2014, Neural Development. 9:17  * Co-first authors. 
  • Juan Moreno-Bravo, Jesus Martinez-Lopez, M. Pilar Madrigal, Minkyung Kim, Grant S. Mastick, Guillermina Lopez-Bendito, Salvador Martinez, and Eduardo Puelles.  Developmental guidance of the retroflex tract at its bending point involves Robo1-Slit2-mediated floor plate repulsion.  2014, Brain Structure and Function, Nov 4.
  • Minkyung Kim, Tatiana Fontelonga, Andrew P Roesener, Haeram Lee, Suman Gurung, Philipe RF Mendonca, and Grant S Mastick. Motor neuron cell bodies are actively positioned by Slit/Robo repulsion and Netrin/DCC attraction.  2015.  Developmental Biology. 399 (1): 68-79.;
  • Hojae Lee, Minkyung Kim, Namhee Kim, Todd Mcfarlan, Samuel L. Pfaff , Grant S. Mastick, and Mi-Ryoung Song.  Slit and Semaphorin signaling governed by Islet transcription factors positions motor neuron somata within the neural tube.  2015.  Experimental Neurology. Jul;269:17-27.
  • Farnaz Shoja-Taheri, Arielle Demarco, and Grant S. Mastick.  Post-crossing commissural axons are guided by Netrin1/DCC signals in the hindbrain.  2015.  Journal of Neuroscience.  2015 Aug 19;35(33):11707-18.