Robert A. Drewell

Associate Professor of Biology

F.W. Olin Science Center, Room 2340
1250 N. Dartmouth Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711

Drewell Lab Website

Education & Professional Experience

  • B.Sc., Molecular Genetics, King’s College, University of London
  • Ph.D., Molecular & Developmental Biology, King’s College, University of Cambridge
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Cambridge
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology
  • Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Reno (2004-2006)


  • Biology 52: Introductory Biology
  • Biology 54: Introductory Biology Laboratory
  • Biology 82: Bioethics and Embryology (Integrative Experience Course)
  • Biology 111:  Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory
  • Biology 113: Molecular Biology
  • Biology 122: Cell and Developmental Biology seminar
  • Biology 164: Genetics seminar
  • Biology 189:  Topics in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology seminar
  • Chemistry 25: Interdisciplinary Freshman Laboratory

Research Interests and Goals

Investigating the molecular mechanisms of gene regulation during development in Drosophila and social insects. Currently analyzing the epigenetic and regulatory networks that control gene expression in the embryo, including the evolution of cis-regulatory modules and the role of DNA methylation.

Past Senior Thesis Students

Michael Nevarez ’12:  Investigating KNIRPS binding sites in the IAB7b enhancer of the Drosophila bithorax complex
Jessica Kurata ’12: The role of the protein FUSHI-TARAZU in regulating Hox gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster
Michael Starr ’10: Characterization of Putative Enhancers in theDrosophila Bithorax Complex
Eric Gunther ’10: Molecular Dissection of Functional Sequences in the Drosophila IAB5 Enhancer
Ethan Sokol ’10: Investigation of Putative CTCF Binding Sites in the Transcriptional Regulation of Telomerase
Vikram Shivaji ’10: Determining the Functional Role of Paired CTCF-Binding Sites at the hTERT gene
Diana Tran ’09: Characterization of an ultra-conserved module at the Telomerase promoter

Ginna Kim ’09: The Construction of a Ddx4-Cre-dsRed Transgenic Mouse

Matt Borok ’09: Characterization of CTCF-dependent regulatory elements in transgenic Drosophila melanogaster

Andrew Nevarez ’09: Rapid Evolution of Noncoding Conserved Elements in the Drosophila Phylogeny

Jack Allen ’09: A Molecular Dissection of a cis-Regulatory Module in the Bithorax Complex of Drosophila melanogaster

Terence Wong ’09: Characterization of Putative CTCF Binding Sites in the Proximal Exonic Region of the hTERT Gene

Sara Goetz ’08: Developing a Drosophila S2 Cell System: A Tool for Molecular Dissection of Regulatory DNA Sequences

Margaret C. W. Ho ’08: Functional conservation of the IAB8 enhancer in the bithorax complex of Drosophila

Ben J. Schiller ’08: On the function of non-genic transcription at theDrosophila bithorax complex
Holly Johnsen ’07:  Evolution of IAB5 enhancer sequence and functionality in Drosophila

Christoph Rau ’07:  Does Functional Conservation Stem from Sequence Conservation?  A Functional and Bioinformatical Analysis of the IAB8 Enhancer in Drosophila

Selected Publications (undergraduates indicated are noted*)

Dresch JM and Drewell RA. 2012    Decoding the cis-regulatory grammar behind enhancer architecture. Introduction to Sequence and Genome Analysis I    (iConcepts Press, book chapter) ISBN: 978014802541-4-5. [chapter]

Drewell RA, Lo N, Oxley PR and Oldroyd BP.  2012.  Kin conflict in insect societies: a new epigenetic perspective. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 27: 367-373.  [article]

Starr MO*, Ho MCW*, Gunther EJM*, Tu YK*, Shur AS*, Goetz SE*, Borok MJ*, Kang V and  Drewell RA.  2011. Molecular dissection of cis-regulatory modules at the Drosophila bithorax complex reveals critical transcription factor signature motifs.  Developmental Biology 359: 290-302. [article]

Drewell RA
.  2011.  Transcription factor binding site redundancy in embryonic enhancers of the Drosophilabithorax complex. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics 1: 603-606. [article]

Wong TC*, Sokol ES*, Schep AN*, Punjiya M*, Tran DA*, Allan D* and Drewell RA.  2011. Transcriptional repression by the proximal exonic region at the human TERT gene.  Gene 486: 65-73. [article]

Ho MCW*, Schiller BJ*, Akbari OS, Bae E and Drewell RA.  2011. Disruption of the Abdominal-B promoter tethering element results in a loss of long-range enhancer-directed Hox gene expression inDrosophila.  PLoS One 6: e16283. [article]

Tran DA*, Wong TC*, Schep AN* and Drewell RA. 2010. Characterization of an ultra-conserved putative cis-regulatory module at the mammalian telomerase reverse transcriptase gene.DNA and Cell Biology 29: 499-508. [article]

Borok MJ*, Tran DA*, Ho MCW* and Drewell RA.  2010. Dissecting the regulatory switches of development: Lessons from enhancer evolution in DrosophilaDevelopment 137: 5-13. [article]

Ho MCW*, Johnsen H*, Goetz SE&, Schiller BJ*, Bae E, Tran DA*, Shur AS*, Allen JM*, Rau C*, Bender W, Fisher WW, Celniker SE andDrewell RA.  2009. Functional evolution of cis-regulatory modules at a homeotic gene in DrosophilaPLoS Genetics 5(11): e1000709. [article]

Ho MCW*, Schiller BJ*, Goetz SE* and Drewell RA. 2009. Non-genic transcription at the Drosophila bithorax complex – functional activity of the dark matter of the genome. International Journal of Developmental Biology. 53: 459-468. [article]

Ho MCW*, Venema DR and Drewell RA.  A concise Drosophilalaboratory module to introduce the central concepts of genetics. Drosophila Information Service. 91:164-168. [article]