Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology

Within our genome is encoded all of the information needed to create a person.  Complex genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms use this information to drive the proliferation, differentiation and migration of cells to form tissues, organs and organisms.  Understanding these processes is paramount in our understanding of disease pathogenesis and the development of regenerative therapies for diabetes, kidney disease, blindness, neural degeneration and aging.

Program in Molecular Medicine research programs cover a broad range of developmental events employing model organisms ranging from unicellular organisms to invertebrates, flies, worms, rodents and humans.

Ambros Lab
We study gene regulatory mechanisms controlling the timing of animal development, using the C. elegans model system. Developmental timing regulators in C. elegans include microRNAs that control the stage-specific expression of key transcription factors. We aim to understand the molecular mechanisms of post-transcriptional gene regulation by microRNAs, and how microRNAs function in regulatory networks affecting development and disease.  (Ambros profile)

Ceol Lab
Our laboratory is interested in the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying tumor initiation and maintenance. We focus primarily on melanoma, using genetically-engineered zebrafish models and mammalian cultured cells to identify unique features of cancer cells that can potentially be used for diagnostic, prognostic or therapeutic benefit. (Ceol profile)

Doxsey Lab
Our laboratory investigates the mechanisms of centrosome function, spindle organization, cell cycle progression/checkpoints, cell separation during cytokinesis and asymmetries generated during mitosis. We are interested in the relationship of these processes to cancer, stem cell self-renewal, cancer stem cells and human aging. (Doxsey profile)

Garber Lab
Manuel Garber, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine and bioinformatics and integrative biology, and director of the Bioinformatics Core. Dr. Garber's methods have been critical to the discovery and characterization of a novel set of large intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) and to our understanding of the immune transcriptional response to pathogens. In September 2012, Dr. Garber moved to the University of Massachusetts Medical School to establish his laboratory and direct the Bioinformatics core.  (Garber profile)

Ip Lab
We use Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, as a model to study innate immune response and stem cell regulation in the adult intestinal tract. The intestinal tract of the adult fly is a relatively simple organ formed by a layer of epithelial cells interspersed with stem cells. The intestinal tract frequently faces environmental challenges such as pathogenic chemicals and microbes. We are studying how these pathogens stimulate innate immune response and stem cell division, both of which are essential for the survival of the animal. (Ip profile)

Lawson Lab
We are interested in how blood vessel identity is programmed. To investigate this process we take advantage of the zebrafish as a model system. We utilize genetic and molecular approaches to identify genes important for endothelial differentiation, while in vivo time lapse analysis allows us to visualize blood vessels as they form in a live embryo. Since this process is evolutionarily conserved, what we learn about blood vessel formation in the zebrafish will be relevant to human disease. (Lawson profile)

Maehr Lab
Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is the result of an autoimmune destruction of insulin producing, pancreatic beta cells. The events leading to the disease have usually occurred long before diagnosis and are based on complex interactions between genes and the environment. The currently available rodent models for T1D can only represent a limited number of patients leaving open the question how many different types of T1D exist. To overcome these difficulties and expand our understanding of T1D and other diseases targeting the immune system we are building in vitro models using human pluripotent stem cells. In those stem cell-based model systems genetic and developmental aspects of the disease can be elucidated. The long-term goal is to recapitulate the disease in a patient-specific manner and to identify novel treatment strategies. (Maehr profile)

Mello Lab
Our lab uses the nematode worm C. elegans as a model organism to investigate how embryonic cells differentiate and communicate during development. In addition, we are investigating the mechanism of RNA interference, a form of sequence-specific gene silencing triggered by double-stranded RNA.  (Mello profile)

Mitchell Lab

Our lab studies the response of cellular networks to changing environments in health and disease. While the structure of regulatory pathways is studied extensively, far less is known about network re-organization under time-varying stimuli. Yet this under-explored dimension has broad implications – time-variant stimuli can culminate in extreme outcomes, from detrimental signaling catastrophes to anticipatory stress responses. We combine experimental and theoretical approaches to dissect network functionality and uncover its unique points of failure. We aim to exploit the network structure to therapeutically target subpopulations of diseased cells within a healthy host.  (Mitchell profile)

Pazour Lab
We are interested in the function of the mammalian primary cilium. These organelles play vital roles in the development of mammals and in the etiology of diseases such as polycystic kidney disease and blindness. Our work combines in vitro cell culture studies with mutant mouse models to understand the role of cilia in controlling kidney architecture and formation of the photoreceptor outer segment. (Pazour profile)

Theurkauf Lab
Work in the lab addresses RNA localization and embryonic patterning, the response of mitotic cells to DNA damage, and small RNA function in germline development. Studies combine high resolution imaging, genetic, and molecular approaches in Drosophila and mammalian cultured cell systems.  (Theurkauf profile)

Tissenbaum Lab
Our work in focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the aging process using a combination of genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry. Our long term goal is to increase the healthspan (the number of active, productive years before the onset of age-associated decline) of individuals; redefining middle age. (Tissenbaum profile)

Walhout Lab
We aim to understand how regulatory networks control animal development, function, and homeostasis; and how dysfunctional networks affect or cause diseases like diabetes, obesity and cancer. We use a combination of experimental and computational systems biology methods to map, characterize and manipulate regulatory networks, most notably in the nematode C. elegans.  (Walhout profile)

Walker Lab
Using C. elegans and mammalian models, we study how lipid homeostasis is affected by genetics or diet and how transcriptional control of methyl donor supply may affect cellular processes such as epigenetics. We also examine links between metabolism and cellular function potentially contributing to human metabolic disorders.  (Walker profile)