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Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology


The research publications of Joseph Altman and Shirley A. Bayer

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The Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology has been continuously conducting research for nearly 60 years. Joseph Altman started it in 1961 when he was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and moved it to Purdue University in 1968. Shirley A. Bayer joined the Laboratory in 1970 and became his wife in 1973. They became a team, collaborating with each other and students. In the early years, the laboratory consisted of faculty associates, several postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and technicians. The laboratory was supported by grants from the Atomic Energy Commission, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation. Shirley moved part of the Laboratory to Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) in 1982, but the Purdue branch remained active until Joe retired in 1995. Funding was dwindling during the early 90s, and completely stopped around 1994. Since then, Joe and Shirley used personal funds to continue their research. In 2000, Shirley left IUPUI to do full-time research linking experimental studies on the development of the rat nervous system to descriptive studies of human nervous system development. The first edition of the 5-Volume Atlas of Human Central Nervous System Development was completed in  2007. A 15-volume new edition re-worked the Atlas into shorter, easier to handle volumes.  You can find them on the Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group) website by putting in “Shirley A. Bayer” in the author search.  As of today (April 24, 2024), 13 volumes are available for sale.  Volumes 14 and 15 on spinal cord development will be published in June 2024.  Electronic versions of each volume are available and will be especially useful in the laboratory.

From around 2009 to the present, Shirley set up websites. This website contains pdfs of the peer-reviewed papers of the Altman and Bayer labs (from the early 1960s to now) so that everyone, especially graduate students in the Neurosciences can read them. Three other websites are also available:

braindevelopmentmaps.org This website is a complete histological database of the best autoradiographic and methacrylate-embedded rat brains in the collections that we used for our research.

brainimages.org This website is a complete database of photographs of histological preparations of developing human brains from the Collections at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Springs, MD.

brainmindevolution.org This website contains 13 book chapters that Joseph Altman wrote during his lifetime about the neurobiological basis of human nature and behavior.

Both Joe and Shirley retired in the late 90s and early 2000s and enjoyed continuing their research in their Florida home. Sadly, Joseph died in 2016, but Shirley continues the work today that she started in the 90s on human central nervous system development.