Lea M. Alford, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Biology, Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, GA


B.A., Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 2003
Ph.D., Biology, Boston College, Boston, MA, 2009
FIRST Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Cell Biology, Emory University School of Medicine, 2009-2012

Research Statement

Cilia are complex conserved structures found on nearly all differentiated cells and play a vital role in various tasks such as motility and sensing the extracellular environment.  

Defects in ciliary assembly or function can lead to a wide range of diseases (called ciliopathies) including left-right pattern defects, Bardet-Biedl Syndrome, obesity and blindness (Baker K. and Beales P.L., 2009). The overall goal of my work is to determine the mechanisms underlying ciliary construction, a process that involves the assembly, transport and targeting of large multisubunit complexes to the cilium.  To address these questions, I utilize the model organism, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which offers many experimental advantages for studying the cilium.  My focus is on a gene that encodes a novel EF-hand protein required for assembly of the radial spoke structure, a highly conserved ciliary structure that is important for regulation of ciliary motility.  Understanding basic, fundamental mechanisms of how cilia assemble and function will influence our understanding of health and all eukaryotic biology.


Vasudevan, K.K., Song, K., Alford, L.M., Sale, W.S., Dymek, E.E., Smith, E.F., Hennessey, T., Joachimiak, E., Urbanska, P., Wloga, D., Dentler, W., Nicastro, D., Gaertig, J. (2015) FAP206 is a microtubule-docking adapter for ciliary radial spoke 2 and dynein c. Mol Biol Cell. 26(4):696-710. PMCID: PMC4325840

Vasudevan, K.K., Jiang, Y.Y., Lechtreck, K.F., Kushida, Y., Alford, L.M., Sale, W.S., Hennessey, T., Gaertig, J. (2015) Kinesin-13 regulates the quantity and quality of tubulin inside cilia. Mol Biol Cell. 26(3):478-94. PMCID: PMC4310739

Viswanadha, R., Hunter, E.L., Yamamoto, R., Wirschell, M., Alford, L.M., Dutcher, S.K., Sale, W.S. (2014) The ciliary inner dynein arm, I1 dynein, is assembled in the cytoplasm and transported by IFT before axonemal docking. Cytoskeleton (Hoboken). 71:573-86. [Epub ahead of print]

Alford, L.M., Mattheyses, A.L., Hunter, E.L., Lin, H., Dutcher, S.K., Sale, W.S. (2013)  The Chlamydomonas mutant pf27 reveals novel features of ciliary radial spoke assembly. Cytoskeleton (Hoboken). 70:804-18. PMCID: PMC3933975

Gudejko, H.F., Alford, L.M., Burgess, D.R. (2012) Polar expansion during cytokinesis. Cytoskeleton (Hoboken). 69:1000-1009. PMCID: PMC3563064

Wirschell, M., Yamamoto, R., Alford, L., Gokhale A., Gaillard, A., Sale, W.S. (2011). Regulation of ciliary motility: Conserved protein kinases and phosphatases are targeted and anchored in the ciliary axoneme. Arch Biochem Biophys. 510:93-100. PMCID: PMC3114296

Alford, L.M., Ng, M.M., Burgess, D.R. (2009) Cell polarity emerges at first cleavage in sea urchin embryos. Dev Biol., 330(1):12-20.

Alford, L.M., Burgess, D.R. (2008) Cytokinesis: a new lipid aboard the raft. Curr Biol., 18:R921-3.

Mayer, C., Filopei, J., Batac, J., Alford, L., Paluh, J.L. (2006) An extended anaphase signaling pathway for Mad2p includes microtubule organizing center proteins and multiple motor-dependent transitions. Cell Cycle, 5:1456-63.


Oglethorpe University
Department of Biology
Atlanta, GA  30319

Emory University School of Medicine
Department of Physiology
Atlanta, GA 30322-3110
(404) 727-7410 Office ~ (404) 727-2648 FAX

For questions or comments, contact the webmaster at beverly.medley@emory.edu.