Robert Lipinski

Department of Comparative Biosciences
Office: 3254

Robert Lipinski

Titles and Education

  1. B.S. in Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2002
  2. Ph.D. in Molecular and Environmental Toxicology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008
  3. Post-doctoral research in embryology and teratology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009-2013



The focus of our research is to understand how genetic and environmental factors interact to cause birth defects of the face and brain. We are particularly interested in craniofacial malformations like cleft lip and palate and holoprosencephaly because of their prevalence and serious consequences for affected individuals and their families. Effective prevention strategies for these birth defects are not available because our understanding of how they are caused is inadequate.  We pursue a multidisciplinary approach based in the complementary disciplines of toxicology, cellular signaling, embryology, and genetics, while integrating in vitro and in vivo animal model systems that recapitulate normal and abnormal development.  The long term goal of our research is to develop birth defect prevention strategies based upon identification of  high-risk populations and culpable environmental influences.  


Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Faculty Development, Department of Comparative Biosciences

Course Director and Instructor, Veterinary Developmental Anatomy

Associate Director, Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Graduate Training Program

Associate Editor, American Journal of Medical Genetics


Graduate Training

  1. Molecular and Environmental Toxicology
  2. Comparative Biomedical Sciences
  3. Cellular and Molecular Biology
  4. Neuroscience Training Program

Recent Publications

  1. A current and complete list of Lipinski laboratory publications can be found on our research site or on NCBI.
  2. Ulschmid CM, MR Sun, CR Jabbarpour, AC Steward, KS Rivera-González, J Cao, AA Martin, M Barnes, L Wicklund, A Madrid, LA Papale, D Joseph, CM Vezina, RS Alisch, and RJ Lipinski. Disruption of DNA methylation-mediated cranial neural crest proliferation and differentiation causes orofacial clefts in miceProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2024 Jan 16;121(3):e2317668121. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2317668121
  3. Jenkins AE, Scarlett CO, Beames TG, Rivera-González KS, Martin AA, Sun MR, Hutson PR, Lipinski RJ. Pharmacokinetic analysis of acute and dietary exposure to piperonyl butoxide in the mouseToxicology Reports. 2023 Sep 23;11:310-317. doi: 10.1016/j.toxrep.2023.09.017
  4. McLaughlin MT, MR Sun, TG Beames, AC Steward, JWM Theisen, HM Chung, JL Everson, IP Moskowitz, MD Sheets, and RJ Lipinski. Frem1 activity is regulated by Sonic Hedgehog signaling in the cranial neural crest mesenchyme during midfacial morphogenesis. Developmental Dynamics.  2023 Apr;252(4):483-494. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.555.
  5. Lipinski RJ and RS Krauss. Gene-environment interactions in birth defect etiology: challenges and opportunitiesCurrent Topics in Developmental Biology. 2023;152:1-30. doi: 10.1016/bs.ctdb.2022.10.001.
  6. Sun MR, AC Steward, EA Sweet, AA Martin, and RJ Lipinski.  Developmental malformations resulting from high-dose maternal tamoxifen exposure in the mouse.  PLOS ONE.  2021.  Aug 17;16(8):e0256299.
  7. Johnson BP, RA Vitek, MM Morgan, DM Fink, TG Beames, PG Geiger, DJ Beebe, and RJ Lipinski.   A microphysiological approach to evaluate effectors of intercellular Hedgehog signaling in development.  Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.  2021 Feb 9;9:621442. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2021.621442
  8. Sun MR, HM Chung, V Matsuk, DM Fink, MJ Stebbins, SP Palacek, EV Shusta, and RJ Lipinski. Sonic hedgehog signaling in cranial neural crest cells regulates microvascular morphogenesis in facial development. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.  2020 Oct 7;8:590539. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2020.590539
  9. Rivera-Gonzalez KS, TG Beames, and RJ Lipinski. Evaluating the developmental toxicity of piperonyl butoxide as a Sonic hedgehog pathway inhibitor. Chemosphere. 2020 Sep 23;264(Pt 1):128414. doi: 10.1016.
  10. Beames TG and RJ Lipinski.  Gene-environment interactions: aligning birth defects research with complex etiology.  Development.  Jul 17;147(21):dev191064. doi: 10.1242/dev.191064. 
  11. Everson, JL, MR Sun, DM Fink, GW Heyne, CG Melberg, KF Nelson, P Doroodchi, LJ Colopy, CM Ulschmid, AA Martin, MT McLaughlin, and RJ Lipinski.  Developmental toxicity assessment of piperonyl butoxide exposure targeting Sonic hedgehog signaling and forebrain and face morphogenesis in the mouse: an in vitro and in vivo studyEnvironmental Health Perspectives.  2019 Oct;127(10):107006
  12. Everson JL, DM Fink, HM Chung, MR Sun, and RJ Lipinski. Identification of Sonic Hedgehog regulated genes and biological processes in the cranial neural crest mesenchyme by comparative transcriptomics. BMC Genomics. 2018 Jun 27;19(1):497.
  13. Ansen-Wilson LJ, JL Everson, DM Fink, HW Kietzman, R Sullivan and RJ Lipinski.  Common basis for orofacial clefting and cortical interneuronopathy.  Translational Psychiatry. 2018 Jan 10;8(1):8
  14. Fink DM, MR Sun, GW Heyne, JL Everson, HM Chung, S Park, MD Sheets and RJ Lipinski.  Coordinated D-Cyclin/Foxd1 activation drives mitogenic activity of Sonic Hedgehog signaling pathway.   Cellular Signalling.  2018 Apr;44:1-9
  15. Everson JL, Fink DM, Yoon JW, Leslie EJ, Kietzman HW, Ansen-Wilson LJ, Chung HM, Walterhouse DO, Marazita ML, Lipinski RJ.Sonic hedgehog regulation of Foxf2 promotes cranial neural crest mesenchyme proliferation and is disrupted in cleft lip morphogenesis.  Development. 2017 Jun 1;144(11):2082-2091. doi: 10.1242/dev.149930. Epub 2017 May 15.
  16. Ansen-Wilson LJ, Lipinski RJ.  Gene-environment interactions in cortical interneuron development and dysfunction: A review of preclinical studies.  Neurotoxicology. 2016 Dec 5;58:120-129. Review.
  17. Heyne, GW, JL Everson, LJ Ansen-Wilson, CG Melberg, DM Fink, KF Parins, P Doroodchi, CM Ulschmid, and RJ Lipinski.  Gli2 gene-environment interactions contribute to the etiological complexity of holoprosencephaly: evidence from a mouse model.  Disease Models and Mechanisms.  2016 Nov 1;9(11):1307-1315.
  18. Heyne, GW, CG Melberg, P Doroodchi, KF Parins, HW Kietzman, JL Everson, LJ Ansen-Wilson, and RJ Lipinski. Definition of critical periods for Hedgehog pathway antagonist-induced holoprosencephaly, cleft lip, and cleft palate.  PLOS ONE.  2015 Mar 20;10(3):e0120517.  PMCID: PMC4368540
  19. Heyne GW, EH Plisch, CG Melberg, EP Sandgren, JA Peter, RJ Lipinski. A simple and reliable method for early pregnancy detection in inbred mice.  Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.  2015 Jul;54(4):368-71.