UConn’s Justin Cotney, Ph.D. to be Honored for Research Excellence by Society for Craniofacial Genetics & Developmental Biology


The Society for Craniofacial Genetics & Developmental Biology (SCGDB) announced that Justin Cotney, Ph.D., associate professor in the UConn School of Medicine’s Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences, will receive its 2023 Marylou Buyse Distinguished Scientist in Craniofacial Research Award.

The award, named after the first female president of the SCGDB, was created to recognize SCGDB members like Cotney who have made important contributions to the craniofacial sciences.

Cotney will be honored on October 10 at the Society’s 46th annual meeting in in Ohio at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center where he will receive a commemorative plaque and deliver a plenary lecture on his functional genomics of craniofacial development research.

In 2015 Cotney joined UConn and launched his research program. He is a member of UConn Health’s Institute for Systems Genomics. He received his B.S. degree in Biology from Birmingham-Southern College and Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology from Emory University. Prior to joining UConn, Cotney was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics at Yale University’s medical school.

His research applies genomic technologies to understand regulatory architecture of mammalian development and disease which has been a hallmark of his independent research program. The Cotney Laboratory at UConn has revealed new insights into the role and evolution of enhancers in controlling craniofacial, heart, limb, and brain development. He has made strong contributions to understating genetic variants associated with normal facial variation in humans and risk for congenital craniofacial anomalies. This work has been published in a number of high-impact journals and led to robust funding from the NIH. Cotney has also made an impact on the field of craniofacial biology through his sharing of genomic datasets to create an epigenomic and transcriptomic atlas of human craniofacial development through Facebase.

In addition to his research, Cotney serves the UConn academic community as director of the Genetics and Developmental Biology Graduate Program, a mentor to dozens of trainees, and an educator across the campus. Beyond his own institution, he serves on grant review panels for the NIH and other national/international grant programs. Cotney and his lab members have contributed to multiple annual SCGDB meetings.

Learn more about the Society founded in 1975 and its goals to improve our understanding of craniofacial development and disease, promote policy and patient advocacy, and translate basic science discoveries into clinical therapies and improved patient care.