Awarded in 2018
Home Department: Bioengineering
Faculty Advisors: Bo Wang (Bioengineering) and Dmitri Petrov (Biology)
Research Title: Predicting Competition Outcomes between Stem Cell Lineages in Tissues
Research Description: Competition between cell lineages in somatic homeostatic tissues contributes to a variety of biomedical problems including cancer and aging. The difficulty of acquiring longitudinal data on the evolution in this competition has limited our ability to quantify and predict the outcome of such dynamics. A small flatworm called the planarian, with its ceaseless cellular turnover and regeneration capabilities, allows us to address this challenge. In this project, Alec is collaborating between a lab with expertise in computational modeling and another lab that specializes in population genetics and experimental evolutionary biology, to theoretically and experimentally explore the mechanisms of interactions underlying clonal dynamics and somatic evolution using the planarian as a model. This will provide broad biomedical significance in the progression of cancer and aging.