Samantha J. Butler, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor, Brain Research Institute
Member, Neuroscience GPB Home Area
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Neurobiology

Contact Information

Lab Number: 310 825 7565Office Phone Number: 310 206 8416
Mailing Address: 610 Charles E Young Drive EastLos Angeles, CA 90095UNITED STATES


Samantha Butler is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and a member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center since 2013. She received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University in 1996. As a graduate student with Yash Hiromi at Princeton University, Dr. Butler studied the genetic mechanisms that establish neural identity in the Drosophila eye during development. Dr. Butler then trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Jane Dodd at Columbia University where she focused on understanding the molecular identity of the factors that guide axons into their stereotyped trajectories in the developing spinal cord. Dr. Butler showed that molecules previously identified as morphogens, specifically the Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) family of growth factors, can act as axon guidance signals. In her own laboratory, first at USC and now UCLA, Dr. Butler has focused on determining how neurons translate morphogens, such as the BMPs, over time to mediate strikingly different processes in the generation of neural circuits. During the course of these studies, she identified a critical mechanism by which the rate of axon outgrowth is controlled during development. The Butler laboratory is now examining how this process can be harnessed to accelerate axon growth in a regenerative context to stimulate the repair of neural circuits. The successful implementation of this technology could result in significantly improved recovery times for patients with damaged nervous systems.


Gaber Zachary B, Butler Samantha J, Novitch Bennett G   PLZF Regulates Fibroblast Growth Factor Responsiveness and Maintenance of Neural Progenitors PLoS biology, 2013; 11(10): e1001676.
Kong J. H., Butler S. J., Novitch B. G.   My brain told me to do it Developmental cell, 2013; 25(5): 436-8.
Yamauchi K., Varadarajan S. G., Li J. E., Butler S. J.   Type Ib BMP receptors mediate the rate of commissural axon extension through inhibition of cofilin activity Development, 2013; 140(2): 333-42.
Hazen V. M., Andrews M. G., Umans L., Crenshaw E. B., Zwijsen A., Butler S. J.   BMP receptor-activated Smads confer diverse functions during the development of the dorsal spinal cord Developmental biology, 2012; 367(2): 216-27.
Hazen V. M., Phan K. D., Hudiburgh S., Butler S. J.   Inhibitory Smads differentially regulate cell fate specification and axon dynamics in the dorsal spinal cord Developmental biology, 2011; 356(2): 566-75.
Phan K. D., Croteau L.-P., Kam J. W. K., Kania A., Cloutier J.-F., Butler S. J.   Neogenin may functionally substitute for Dcc in chicken PloS one, 2011; 6(7): e22072.
Phan K. D., Hazen V. M., Frendo M.E., Jia Z.-P., Butler S.J.   The bone morphogenetic protein roof plate chemorepellent regulates the rate of commissural axonal growth Journal of Neuroscience, 2010; 30(46): 15430-40.
Hazen V. M., Phan K.D., Yamauchi K., Butler S. J.   Assaying the ability of diffusible signaling molecules to reorient embryonic spinal commissural axons JoVE, 2010; 31(37): .
Novitch B. G., Butler S. J.   Reducing the mystery of neuronal differentiation Cell, 2009; 138(6): 1062-4.
Yamauchi K., Phan K. D., Butler S. J.   BMP type I receptor complexes have distinct activities mediating cell fate and axon guidance decisions Development, 2008; 135(6): 1119-28.
Butler S. J., Tear G.   Getting axons onto the right path: the role of transcription factors in axon guidance Development, 2007; 134(3): 439-48.
Butler S. J., Dodd J.   A role for BMP heterodimers in roof plate-mediated repulsion of commissural axons Neuron, 2003; 38(3): 389-401.
Augsburger A., Schuchardt A., Hoskins S., Dodd J., Butler S.   BMPs as mediators of roof plate repulsion of commissural neurons Neuron, 1999; 24(1): 127-41.