The Extavour Lab is a collection of developmental biologists, molecular biologists, geneticists, cell biologists, zoologists, and evolutionary biologists. Their shared interest is in the evolution of the genetic mechanisms employed during early animal embryogenesis to specify cell fate, development and differentiation. They focus primarily on the evolution and development of reproductive systems, including both the germ line and the somatic components of the gonad.
The Rabinowitz Lab aims to achieve a quantitative, comprehensive understanding of cellular metabolism. Their motivation for studying metabolism is two-fold. From a basic science perspective, the molecular connections involved in metabolism are the best understood of any major biochemical network. Accordingly, metabolism provides a unique opportunity for quantitative analysis. From a practical perspective, derangements of metabolism are a major cause of disease, and small molecules that inhibit metabolism are the basis of many important pharmaceuticals. Accordingly, systems-level analysis of metabolism is likely to yield discoveries of medical significance.
The Klein Lab studies how cells make decisions during embryo development and tissue regeneration. They utilize the lung, the blood, and early vertebrate embryos as our model systems. To gain a quantitative understanding of cellular decisions, they develop experimental and statistical approaches to measure cellular and tissue phenotypes. They additionally use theoretical approaches to infer principles from quantitative phenotypes.
The Wang lab applies synthetic and systems biology approaches to design and build new microbes with novel capabilities, leveraging both engineering and evolutionary principles. They are interested in developing platform technologies and using them to answer fundamental biological questions. Their research interests include: genome engineering; human microbiome; synthetic ecosystems; evolution and epistasis; and new genetic codes.
Salmonella is the causative agent of various diseases, ranging from gastro-enteritis to typhoid fever. We have recently discovered that upon infection of host cells, there is a dramatic increase in the proportion of the Salmonella population that forms persisters. A family of genes, named Toxin/Antitoxin modules, is known to be involved in the formation of persisters in a non-pathogenic bacterial species, but almost nothing is known about these genes in pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella. The Helaine lab investigates their function, particularly in relation to persistence of Salmonellatoantibiotics during infection. Understanding mechanisms of action of such genes could provide ways to prevent bacteria from becoming persisters, or force them out of that state so they become re-sensitised to antibiotics.
Cancer is a condition promoted by cells undergoing an identity crisis. An understanding of how cells control their identity (cell fate specification), and how they organize themselves into normal tissues (morphogenesis) provides the blueprint for the fundamental biological processes that become deregulated in cancer. The Hadjantonakis laboratory uses high-resolution quantitative methods to investigate the mechanisms underlying stem cell specification, cellular differentiation, tissue organization and growth. They use the mammalian embryo as a platform, and the mouse as a primary model system. They also exploit in vitro cultured stem cells, including pluripotent stem cells, for their studies.
The origin of animals represents one of the pivotal transitions in life’s history, and one of its greatest unsolved mysteries. While the fossil record remains silent regarding the rise of multicellularity, the genetic and developmental foundations of animal origins may be deduced from shared elements among extant animals and their protozoan relatives, the choanoflagellates. To better understand the origin and evolution of animals, Dr. King's lab is reconstructing the minimal genomic complexity of the unicellular progenitors of animals; elucidating the ancestral functions of genes required for animal development; and characterizing choanoflagellate cell and developmental biology.
The Computational Systems Biology Group comprises biologists, computer scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who perform interdisciplinary research in systems and synthetic biology. They focus on developing and applying computational methods and mechanistic mathematical models to study complex cellular networks, to elucidate their operating principles, and to enable their rational re-design. Their biological applications rely on the group’s experimental biology part that uses budding yeast as a model organism, and on various external collaborations.
This WISE Research Roundtable is one in a series of discussions with those whose research illuminates paths to advance equity in scientific and technical fields.
Faculty mentoring is a durable structure within doctoral education that facilitates intellectual growth, professional socialization, and progressive independence. This presentation will share findings from research focused on PhD students from marginalized backgrounds in science and engineering programs that, though located in top research universities, enrolled significantly higher shares of women or students of color than are found on average in those disciplines. Posselt finds clear patterns in how students conceptualize faculty support, associated with specific mentoring tactics that contributed to their persistence and well-being.
Dr. Lieber’s work is characterized by its interdisciplinary nature—an approach that is relevant to those who study biomechanics and Orthopaedic Surgery. He has also pioneered studies of human muscle during hand surgery and in conditions of muscle contracture due to cerebral palsy.
Dr. Goldenfeld's seminar concerns topics of evolutionary ecology related to the question of how microbe-phage communities can be stable, and what sorts of dynamics can arise from the interplay between predation and population dynamics.
The Chakraborty group is focused on understanding how the adaptive immune system is regulated, and on harnessing this understanding to design vaccines against scourges such as HIV. They confront these challenges by bringing together theoretical and computational studies, rooted in statistical mechanics, with a diversity of biological experiments and clinical data.
The Bonini lab specializes in using the genetically tractable model organism, Drosophila, as a tool to understand the molecular basis of disease and disorder of the brain, with a particular focus on degenerative processes including ALS/FTD, TBI and aging. They implement cutting-edge genetic, molecular and cellular approaches to develop and characterize models of these processes to study their molecular basis, with an emphasis on potential translatability to clinical improvement.
Over the last decade, the Zhang lab has made significant contributions to the epigenetic field by identifying and characterizing many chromatin modifying enzymes. Their studies have revealed that some of these enzymes play critical roles in cancer.