Grace Boekhoff-Falk

Position title: Associate Professor


Phone: Phone: (608) 262-1609 | Fax: (608) 262-7306

RESEARCH INTERESTS - Development and evolution of neural systems

Headshot of Grace Boekhoff-Falk


Address: 4433 WIMR II – 1111 Highland Ave. – Madison, WI 53705




Swarthmore College, B.A. (summa cum laude) in Biology, 1984
University of Wisconsin – Madison, Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology, 1991
HHMI/University of Wisconsin – Madison, Postdoctoral fellow, 1991-1996


My laboratory studies the development and evolution of neural structures. Our goals are to elucidate the developmental genetic programs underlying auditory organ, olfactory organ and brain formation and to understand how they change during evolution to result in novel morphologies and functions. Our current efforts are focused on the genetic and biochemical interactions of the homeodomain transcription factors encoded by the Drosophila Distal-less (Dll), homothorax (hth), extradenticle (exd) and cut (ct) genes. We are using genetic, molecular (including gene expression array) and biochemical (including chromatin immunoprecipitation) approaches in the genetically tractable model organism, Drosophila melanogaster (fruitfly), to identify and investigate gene networks.

Representative Publications

  • Crocker KL, Ahern-Djamali S, Boekhoff-Falk G. Stimulating and Analyzing Adult Neurogenesis in the Drosophila Central Brain. J Vis Exp. 2021 Oct 8;(176). doi: 10.3791/63182. PMID: 34694294.
  • Crocker KL, Marischuk K, Rimkus SA, Zhou H, Yin JCP, Boekhoff-Falk G. Neurogenesis in the adult Drosophila brain. Genetics. 2021 Oct 2;219(2):iyab092. doi: 10.1093/genetics/iyab092. PMID: 34117750; PMCID: PMC8860384.
  • Bolus H, Crocker K, Boekhoff-Falk G, Chtarbanova S. Modeling Neurodegenerative Disorders in Drosophila melanogaster. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Apr 26;21(9):3055. doi: 10.3390/ijms21093055. PMID: 32357532; PMCID: PMC7246467.
  • Loewen C, Boekhoff-Falk G, Ganetzky B, Chtarbanova S. A Novel Mutation in Brain Tumor Causes Both Neural Over-Proliferation and Neurodegeneration in Adult Drosophila. G3 (Bethesda). 2018 Oct 3;8(10):3331-3346. doi: 10.1534/g3.118.200627. PMID: 30126833; PMCID: PMC6169379.
  • Plavicki JS, Squirrell JM, Eliceiri KW, Boekhoff-Falk G. (2016) Expression of the Drosophila homeobox gene, Distal-less, supports an ancestral role in neural development. Dev Dyn. 245:87-95.
  • Boekhoff-Falk G, Eberl DF. (2014) The Drosophila auditory system. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 3:179-91.
  • Plavicki J, Mader S, Pueschel E, Peebles P, Boekhoff-Falk G. (2012) Homeobox gene distal-less is required for neuronal differentiation and neurite outgrowth in the Drosophila olfactory system. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109:1578-83.
  • Wellik D, Sun X, Boekhoff-Falk G. (2011) John F. Fallon, PhD: fifty years of excellence in limb research and counting. Dev Dyn. 240:909-14.
  • Ebacher, D.J.S., S.V. Todi, D.F. Eberl and G. Boekhoff-Falk (2007). Cut mutant Drosophila auditory organs differentiate abnormally and degenerate. Fly 1:86-94
  • Zhao, G., Boekhoff-Falk, G., Wilson, B.A. and J. B. Skeath (2007). Linking pattern formation to cell-type specification: Dichaete and Ind directly repress achaete gene expression in the Drosophila CNS. PNAS 104:3847-3852
  • Eberl, D.F. and G. Boekhoff-Falk (2007). Development of the Drosophila Johnston’s organ. International Journal of Developmental Biology 51:679-687
  • Bolinger, R.A. and G. Boekhoff-Falk (2005). Distal-less functions in subdividing the Drosophila thoracic limb primordium. Developmental Dynamics 232:801-816
  • Boekhoff-Falk, G. (2005). Hearing in Drosophila: Development of Johnston’s organ and emerging parallels to vertebrate ear development. Developmental Dynamics, 232:550-558
  • Dong, P.D.S., S.V. Todi, D.F. Eberl and G. Boekhoff-Falk (2003). Drosophila spalt/spalt-related mutants exhibit Townes-Brocks’ syndrome phenotypes. PNAS 100:10293-10298
  • Dong, P.D.S., J.S. Dicks and G. Panganiban (2002). Distal-less and Homothorax regulate multiple targets to pattern the Drosophila antenna. Development 129: 1967-1974
  • Panganiban, G. and J.L.R. Rubenstein (2002). Developmental functions of the Distal-less (Dlx) homeobox genes. Development, 129: 4371-4386.