A developmental biologist by training, he has studied human and animal cell cultures, mice, brittle stars, tunicates, flatworms, and viruses. Otto has published papers in and served as a reviewer for well-respected academic journals. He has received competitive research fellowships from the NIH and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. In addition to his research activities, Otto has many years of practice communicating science to both scientific and non-scientific audiences as a formal lecturer, informal teacher, research guide, and mentor.
Otto received his bachelor’s degree in biology from The Johns Hopkins University while also working as a clinical research assistant at the JHU School of Medicine. Following graduation, he helped develop first-to-market mesenchymal stem cell drugs at Osiris Therapeutics, Inc., a biotech company then located in Baltimore, MD. Otto returned to academia in 2004 and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Utah, under HHMI investigator Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Ph.D. There he described how injury influences stem cell behaviors such as differentiation and migration utilizing microsurgical and radiological techniques.
Before joining Bozicevic, Field, & Francis in 2013, Otto performed postdoctoral research in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. At UCSB Otto developed novel methods to study adult tissue regeneration in sea squirts, our closest living invertebrate relatives.