Our focus — what questions are we asking?
Our program currently takes a three-pronged approach to understanding development, aging, and regeneration using model organisms, such as mice, fish, flies and worms, as well as human stem cell derivatives: (1) by unraveling how gene functions are regulated either via a change in the genetic code itself (mutations) or by modifications in regulatory molecules associated with the genetic material (epigenetic); (2) by studying the development and regeneration capacity of the brain, heart, muscles, pancreas, limbs, liver, and other organs; and (3) by probing the biology of aging and organ/tissue homeostasis to maintain a well-functioning organism.
How Will our Research Help Patients?
Advances in basic research to understand how cells, organs and organisms assemble and age, how their optimal functions are maintained or how damage is repaired, are the foundation for further dissecting pathological changes in patients and developing novel therapeutic approaches. Therefore, the research in this program is primarily concerned with unraveling the biology of cells, organs and organisms. These efforts invariably include a forward looking perspective into how the new insights are relevant for understanding and ultimately treating diseases. By deciphering the codes for normal development, aging and regeneration, we are gaining the tools to elucidate the specific defects in patients with heart disease, neurodegeneration, muscle disorders, diabetes, cancers and other debilitating diseases, with the aim to uncover novel therapeutic targets and strategies. Thus, basic research is the key fuel for "science benefiting patients."