Faculty Member

Hazel L.

Hazel Sive

Hazel Sive

Member, Whitehead Institute

Professor of Biology, MIT


Sive Research

Sive Lab


Whitehead Member Hazel Sive’s research focuses on development of the vertebrate embryo, using frogs and the zebrafish, as model systems. Her lab studies two major topics. The first is development of the extreme anterior (front) of the embryo, a unique and important region. Sive pioneered the study of a simple organ, the mucus-secreting cement gland, as a marker for the extreme anterior in frogs and has used this to define the genetic network by which an organ is positioned. Her lab studies development of another extreme anterior organ, the primary mouth (the first mouth opening), which is essential for normal food ingestion and jaw development. As part of this study, her lab has defined essential signaling factors for primary mouth formation.

The second focus is on development of the nervous system, including the genetic basis for formation of correct brain structure. The Sive laboratory defined some of the earliest molecular markers of the nervous system, answering the age-old question of when the embryo decides to make a nervous system. More recently, her lab has studied how the three dimensional structure of the brain is generated. Her focus includes understanding how the brain bends to pack into the skull, as well as analyzing development of the brain ventricular system - a system of fluid-filled cavities that form an essential circulatory system within the brain. Structural abnormalities of the brain are associated with devastating birth defects. Data from the Sive lab brings together genetics, molecular biology and imaging the brain at single cell resolution in the living embryo. Her lab has analyzed multiple mutants with brain structural defects, and defined novel processes required to build normal brain structure. Dr. Sive has a long-standing interest in using the zebrafish as a tool to understand human mental health disorders, including schizophrenia and autism.

Sive is a Member of the Whitehead Institute, Professor of Biology at MIT and Associate Dean for the School of Science at MIT. Prof. Sive received her B.Sc. Hons. in 1979 from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa and her Ph.D. in 1986 from Rockefeller University, New York; she carried out postdoctoral research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle, WA, before joining the MIT faculty in 1991.

She was named a Searle Scholar and received a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award.

Selected Achievements

  • Identified more than 50 genes in vertebrates involved in the formation of nerve tissue
  • Named a Searle Scholar (1992)
  • Received National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award (1992)

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