Nathan T. Swailes, PhD

Lecturer of Histology
Associate of Anatomy and Cell Biology

Contact Information

Primary Office
1-B046 A ML
Iowa City, IA 52242


BSc, Human Biology, The University of Leeds
PhD, Anatomy and Cell Biology, The University of Leeds
Certificate, James Cook University, College of Education

Research Summary

My research interests lie in two areas: development and repair of skeletal muscle and innovative techniques to enhance deep student learning in the anatomical sciences. In the developing embryo, muscle precursor cells, or myoblasts, develop from the somites (regions of embryonic mesoderm arranged segmentally along the length of the embryo). Some of these myoblasts will form the skeletal muscles of the axial skeleton (vertebral column, head, neck and trunk) while others will form the muscles of the appendicular skeleton (limbs).

A number of influencing factors guide the myoblasts destined to become limb muscles on a long and precise journey of migration from the somites where they developed, to their final destination in the limb. Once there, the myoblasts will elongate and form aligned groups before they fuse to form myotubes. It is these myotubes that will become the muscles that move the joints of our limbs. As the cells pass through this developmental process, there is a change in the organisation of their actin and myosin "cytoskeleton".

My interests lie in the organisation and interaction of these cytoskeletal components to determine how they are involved in the control of normal muscle development.


Swailes, N. T., Colgrave, M., Knight, P. J. & Peckham, M. (2006). Non-muscle myosins 2A and 2B drive changes in cell morphology that occur as myoblasts align and fuse. Journal of Cell Science, 119, 3561-3570. PMID: 16895968.

Swailes, N. T., Knight, P. J. & Peckham, M. (2004). Actin filament organization in aligned pre-fusion myoblasts. Journal of Anatomy, 205(5), 381-391. PMID: 15575887.

Swailes, N. T., Knight, P. J. & Peckham, M. (2003). Actin filament organization in aligned pre-fusion myoblasts in vitro. (Vols. 203). (1), pp. 143-154. Journal of Anatomy (Proceedings of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain & Ireland).