|Cells are the fundamental
units of life. Their structure, organization, function, and
their communication with each other and with the environment
is at the very heart of all biological processes. How a fertilized
egg develops into a new individual, how an immune response
is mounted, how a nerve impulse is transmitted, or how we
process visual information, perceive smells or taste are
all, at their most basic level, questions of how cells function
either alone or in concert with other cells. Most diseases
result from a failure of normal cell function or cell interaction.
Research in the department explores a wide variety of basic
aspects of cell function and cell communication particularly
in the context of plant or animal development, neurobiology,
immunology, and the cancer process.
Projects range from studies
on endocytic processing of tumor antigens for presentation
on the surfaces of cells of the immune system to develop
tumor immunity to studies on the mechanism of asymmetric
cell division to generate cell type diversity during development
and studies identifying molecules involved in regulating
cell traction to facilitate cell migration during embryogenesis.
Signal transduction pathways involved in processes as diverse
as photoreception, directing developmental decision making
in forming the vulva organ of the nematode worm and pheromone
signaling in the olfactory system are also areas of active
research in the department. These problems are approached
using genetics, biochemistry, electrophysiology, and microscopy.
My research program is interested in vision and the molecules that convert light into a biological signal.
Mammalian ribosomal RNA synthesis in the nucleolus and its regulation.
One gene we are studying controls the traction a migrating cell exerts as it moves. We are doing genetic screens for additional traction genes
We are interested in determining how the prostate tumor suppressor NKX3.1 controls cell proliferation.
We are investigating the regulation of brain development and metabolism. These studies are expected to contribute to the prevention of neural tube birth defects and the treatment of stroke.
Tumor immunology; processing and presentation of tumor antigens to CD4+ T lymphocytes; tumor-induction of suppressor myeloid cells
We are interested in the cellular signaling events that induce cell motility. We are also studying the changes in cell adhesion that must occur when cells become migratory.
Using systems and synthetic biology to engineer microbial strains of industrial value for bioenergy and bioremediation