Clark R Coffman

Associate Professor
Clark Coffman image

Professor Coffman received his B.S. in 1986 from Iowa State University. In 1993 he received his Ph.D. from U.C. San Diego, where his mentors were William A. Harris and Christopher R. Kintner. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at Boulder CO from 1993 – 1997, where his mentor was Robert E. Boswell. Professor Coffman joined the faculty of Iowa State University in 1998 as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Zoology and Genetics and continued that appointment in the Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology, where he became an Assistant Professor in 2004 and then Associate Professor in 2011.

Research Description

My laboratory studies the regulatory networks governing cell migration and programmed cell death with the goals of better understanding how these processes contribute to metastatic cancer states and how they help shape the embryo during development. We use the germ cells of Drosophila melanogaster as a model. During development, the germ cells of this fruit fly actively invade and cross an epithelial layer, move over and through multiple types of mesoderm, and then colonize a distant site, the embryonic gonad. These migratory movements and the ability to colonize secondary locations are extremely analogous to metastatic cancer cells which leave the primary tumor and move to other locations. Careful regulation of programmed cell death is another common feature of developing germ cells and metastatic cells. In the case of developing germ cells, cells that reach the gonads survive while those outside of the gonads execute a cell death program. Metastatic cells must thwart a myriad of death signals in order to establish secondary tumors. We are using forward and reverse genetic approaches, plus the tools of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology to elucidate the signaling networks mediating these fundamental biological processes.


  • Deepak Reyon, Jessica Kirkpatrick, Jeffry Sander, Dan Voytas, J. Keith Joung, Drena Dobbs, and Clark Coffman (2010). ZFNGenome: a Comprehensive Resource for Locating Zinc Finger Nuclease Target Sites in Model Organisms. Submitted to BMC Genomics.
  • Angela R. Kamps, Margaret M. Pruitt, John C. Herriges, and Clark R. Coffman (2010). An Evolutionarily Conserved Arginine is Essential for Tre1 G Protein-Coupled Receptor Function during Primordial Germ Cell Migration. PLoS ONE 5 e11839.
  • Jo Anne Powell-Coffman and Clark R. Coffman (2010). Lack of Oxygen Aids Cell Survival. Nature 465 554-555.
  • Yukiko Yamada, Keri D. Davis, and Clark R. Coffman. 2008. Programmed Cell Death of Primordial Germ Cells in Drosophila is Regulated by p53 and the Outsiders Monocarboxylate Transporter. Development 135:207-216.
  • Paul Skoglund, Bette Dzamba, Clark R. Coffman, William A. Harris, and Ray Keller. 2006. Xenopus Fibrillin is Expressed in the Organizer and is the Earliest Component of Matrix at the Developing Notochord-Somite Boundary. Developmental Dynamics 235:1974-1983.
  • Yukiko Yamada and Clark R. Coffman. 2005. DNA Damage-Induced Programmed Cell Death: Potential Roles in Germ Cell Deveopment. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1049:9-16.
  • Angela R. Kamps and Clark R. Coffman. 2005. G Protein-Coupled Receptor Roles in Cell Migration and Cell Death Decisions. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1049:17-23.
  • Clark R. Coffman. 2003. Cell migration and programmed cell death of Drosophila germ cells. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 995:117-126.
  • Clark R. Coffman, Rachel C. Strohm, Fredrick D. Oakley, Yukiko Yamada, Danielle Przychodzin, and Robert E. Boswell. 2002. Identification of X-linked genes required for migration and programmed cell death of Drosophila melanogaster germ cells. Genetics 162:273-284.
Area of Expertise: 
Regulatory networks surrounding cell migration and programmed cell death
B.S., Zoology, Iowa State University, 1986
Ph.D., Biology, University of California, San Diego, 1993
3258 Molecular Biology