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Dr. Lefebvre investigates the genetic mechanisms that generate the diversity of cell types composing the body. Her emphasis is on deciphering how proteins called SOX transcription factors specify stem cells and highly specialized cells in the skeleton, how changes in these factors cause skeletal diseases, and how these factors also control other processes, including brain development and intellectual disability diseases.
Since her PhD training, Dr. Lefebvre has dedicated her career to uncovering the genetic mechanisms whereby stem cells and differentiated cells acquire their identity and execute specialized activities. During postdoctoral training at the University of Texas, she helped discover that the SOX9 transcription factor is a master regulator of cartilage cells. In establishing her laboratory at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, she broadened her research scope and discovered important roles for several other SOX proteins in the skeletal system, namely SOX5 and SOX6, which assist SOX9 in cartilage cells, and SOX4 and SOX11, which pivotally control skeletal stem/progenitor cells. Providing expertise well beyond skeletal research, Dr. Lefebvre significantly contributed to establishing the concept that SOX transcription factors specify cell fate and differentiation in virtually all biological processes from development to disease.
She relocated to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in July of 2018, where she further explores the actions and regulation of SOX proteins in the skeleton and brain. Fundamental research projects on normal development and adulthood provide instrumental information that is directly used in translational projects on rare skeletal malformation and intellectual disability diseases, and prevalent adult-onset diseases, including osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
Dr. Lefebvre is a strong believer that career success is measured not merely by independent research accomplishments but most effectively and most gratifyingly by multi-team collaborations and by mentoring new generations of research and clinician scientists.
Education and Training
PhD, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium (Biochemistry & Cell Biology), 1990
Fellowship, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Molecular Genetics), 1997
Titles and Academic Titles