• Organ Development and Disease

    Research in this area aims to identify the processes that direct the formation of organs during normal embryonic development, as well as elucidating disorders that arise from abnormal development.

    Nadean Brown, PhD, investigates mechanisms of cell fate specification in the mouse retina and lens. Projects focus on the function and regulation of transcription factor and Notch signaling during progenitor cell proliferation, cell cycle exit and differentiation.

    Vaughn Cleghon, PhD, is interested in understanding the role of protein kinases in development and disease. His lab uses molecular biology, tissue culture, Drosophila genetics and bioinformatics to better understand fundamental mechanisms involved in the regulation of protein kinase activity. [Visit the Cleghon lab site.]

    Tiffany Cook, PhD, is interested in understanding the molecular basis of eye development, and how these processes are disrupted in disease states. Using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model, we combine cellular, molecular, biochemical, and genetic approaches to dissect the events underlying the development of the lens and retina. [Visit the Cook lab site.]

    Sandra Degen, PhD, studies the regulation of expression of proteins in blood coagulation and growth control: prothrombin and hepatocyte growth factor-like protein, and its membrane tyrosine kinase receptor, Ron.

    Prasad Devarajan, MD, studies the molecular mechanisms underlying the response of the kidney to various forms of injury, and the determinants of renal regeneration that are shared by the developing kidney.

    SK Dey, PhD, is focused on defining the molecular and genetic landscape of embryo-uterine interactions during blastocyst implantation and gynecological cancers. He uses various genetically altered mouse models to address these critical biological problems.

    Rashmi Hegde, PhD, studies molecular mechanisms involved in embryonic organ development and how the aberrant functioning of these processes can lead to developmental disorders as well as adult disease states such as cancer. This knowledge is then utilized in the rational design of therapeutic strategies. We use a variety of experimental techniques including biochemistry, cell biology and structural biology. [Visit the Hegde lab site.]

    Vladimir Kalinichenko, MD, PhD, is investigating the transcriptional regulation of epithelial and endothelial cell functions during lung embryonic development and lung carcinogenesis. The primary emphasis of the studies is on the Winged helix/Forkhead Box (Fox) proteins and their role in regulating cell signaling pathways required for cellular proliferation, differentiation, motility and survival. The ultimate goal of the research program is to identify novel mechanisms that cause human lung malformations and promote lung cancer formation.

    Richard Lang, PhD, has a major interest in early development of the eye emphasizing the signaling and genetics of lens induction. His lab also studies how macrophages signal apoptosis in vascular endothelial cells during programmed vascular regression. [Visit the Lang lab site.]

    James Lessard, PhD, assesses the functional and developmental significance of the four distinct forms of muscle actins. His lab also studies the regulation of visceral smooth muscle growth and differentiation.

    Steven Potter, PhD, is interested in kidney and craniofacial development and disease. He uses a combination of laser capture microdissection, microarrays, and next generation sequencing, applied to both mouse models and human biopsy disease samples. [Visit the Potter lab site.]

    William Scott, PhD, focuses on the effects of human teratogens in rodents; specifically, the pattern formation along the anterior (thumb)/posterior (pinky) axis affected by drug exposure. [Visit the Scott lab site.]

    Noah Shroyer, PhD, is focused on development and diseases of the intestine. We seek to understand the molecular mechanisms of intestinal epithelial differentiation, and to apply this knowledge to gain insight into two major diseases of the intestine: colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. [Visit the Shroyer lab site.]

    Saulius Sumanas, PhD, utilizes zebrafish as a model system to study molecular mechanisms of the embryonic vasculature formation. [Visit the Sumanas lab site.]

    James Wells, PhD, researches the molecular mechanisms of endoderm organogenesis in mouse and humans. The goal of this work is to identify the molecular basis of congenital defects affecting the pancreas, liver, and biliary system and to direct the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) into therapeutic cells for replacement therapies, such as transplantable pancreatic beta cells for patients with type-1 diabetes. [Visit the Wells lab site.]

    Jeffrey A. Whitsett, MD, investigates the hierarchy of transcriptional controls and signaling cascades which determine commitment of progenitor cells that produce the differentiated epithelial cells lining the primordial and mature respiratory tract. Studies focus on the control of cell-specific gene transcription governing lung epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation and surfactant gene expression. The goal of his research is to provide insight into the pathogenesis of acute and chronic lung disorders, such as respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), other disorders of surfactant homeostasis, as well as pulmonary fibrosis, COPD, lung cancer and asthma. The role of surfactant in innate host defense and lung function is also an ongoing interest. [Visit the Whitsett lab site.]

    Dan Wiginton, PhD, uses transgenic and gene knockout mouse models to investigate in vivo mechanisms of gene regulation during cell differentiation and tissue development, with current focus on the intestinal epithelium. Special interest is the role of Onecut factors in intestinal development and function. [Visit the Wiginton lab site.]

    Christopher Wylie, PhD, studies the differentiation of the germ line, and its contribution to the development of the early embryo. In particular we study the behavior of early germ line cells, and the control of patterning of the early embryo by stored mRNAs and proteins in the oocyte, including the formation of the primary germ layers, and the role of the cytoskeleton in controlling the architecture of the embryo.

    Aaron Zorn, PhD, investigates the molecular mechanisms controlling the development of organs such as the liver, pancreas and gastrointestinal tract, which are derived from the embryonic endoderm. [Visit the Zorn lab site.]

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