Development, Aging and Regeneration Program

developing human islets

Probing biology and disease

Our cells constantly receive cues from both inside and outside the body, prompted by conditions such as injury, aging, infection, stress or even food.

To adjust to these cues, cells send and receive signals through biological pathways. Our research into the codes and cell changes associated with normal development and aging, and distinguishing them from those linked to disease and disability, will lead to new strategies to protect our health.

The model model organism - the fruit fly and its beating heart

Directors' statement

We are using model organisms—mice, fish, flies, worms and human stem cells to (1) unravel gene functions linked to mutations and epigenetic factors; (2) explore the development and regenerative capacity of the brain, heart, muscles, pancreas, limbs, liver and other organs; and (3) probe the biology of aging and organ/tissue maintenance to maintain a well-functioning organism. These insights provide the tools needed to uncover novel therapeutic targets for heart disease, neurodegeneration, muscle disorders, diabetes, cancer and other debilitating diseases.

Pier Lorenzo Puri, M.D. and Alessandra Sacco, Ph.D., Program Directors



Age-dependent electrical and morphological remodeling of the Drosophila heart caused by hERG/seizure mutations.

Ocorr K, Zambon A, Nudell Y, Pineda S, Diop S, Tang M, Akasaka T, Taylor E

PLoS Genet 2017 May ;13(5):e1006786

Nuclear Pores Regulate Muscle Development and Maintenance by Assembling a Localized Mef2C Complex.

Raices M, Bukata L, Sakuma S, Borlido J, Hernandez LS, Hart DO, D'Angelo MA

Dev Cell 2017 Jun 5 ;41(5):540-554.e7

Spatiotemporal regulation of autophagy during Caenorhabditis elegans aging.

Chang JT, Kumsta C, Hellman AB, Adams LM, Hansen M

Elife 2017 Jul 4 ;6

LncRNA EPR regulates intestinal mucus production and protects against inflammation and tumorigenesis.

Briata P, Mastracci L, Zapparoli E, Caputo L, Ferracci E, Silvestri A, Garuti A, Hamadou MH, Inga A, Marcaccini E, Grillo F, Bucci G, Puri PL, Beznoussenko G, Mironov A, Chiacchiera F, Gherzi R

Nucleic Acids Res 2023 Apr 18 ;

Conserved transcription factors promote cell fate stability and restrict reprogramming potential in differentiated cells.

Missinato MA, Murphy S, Lynott M, Yu MS, Kervadec A, Chang YL, Kannan S, Loreti M, Lee C, Amatya P, Tanaka H, Huang CT, Puri PL, Kwon C, Adams PD, Qian L, Sacco A, Andersen P, Colas AR

Nat Commun 2023 Mar 27 ;14(1):1709

Age-dependent Lamin changes induce cardiac dysfunction via dysregulation of cardiac transcriptional programs.

Kirkland NJ, Skalak SH, Whitehead AJ, Hocker JD, Beri P, Vogler G, Hum B, Wang M, Lakatta EG, Ren B, Bodmer R, Engler AJ

Nat Aging 2023 Jan ;3(1):17-33

Deacetylase-dependent and -independent role of HDAC3 in cardiomyopathy.

Ren J, Zeng Q, Wu H, Liu X, Guida MC, Huang W, Zhai Y, Li J, Ocorr K, Bodmer R, Tang M

J Cell Physiol 2023 Mar ;238(3):647-658

Smarcd3 is an epigenetic modulator of the metabolic landscape in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Ferguson LP, Gatchalian J, McDermott ML, Nakamura M, Chambers K, Rajbhandari N, Lytle NK, Rosenthal SB, Hamilton M, Albini S, Wartenberg M, Zlobec I, Galván JA, Karamitopoulou E, Vavinskaya V, Wascher A, Lowy AM, Schürch CM, Puri PL, Bruneau BG, Hargreaves DC, Reya T

Nat Commun 2023 Jan 18 ;14(1):292

Muscle stem cells and fibro-adipogenic progenitors in female pelvic floor muscle regeneration following birth injury.

Sesillo FB, Rajesh V, Wong M, Duran P, Rudell JB, Rundio CP, Baynes BB, Laurent LC, Sacco A, Christman KL, Alperin M

NPJ Regen Med 2022 Dec 16 ;7(1):72

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