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Maria Barna - Associate Professor of Genetics

Photo of Dr. Maria Barna, Associate Professor of Genetics at Stanford University.
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Maria Barna's lab studies how intricate control of gene expression and cell signaling is regulated on a minute-by-minute basis to give rise to the remarkable diversity of cell types and tissue morphology that form the living blueprints of developing organisms. This research aims to add a new dimension to our understanding of how cells “know” where to go, when to move and differentiate by employing novel technologies that probe these questions at a highly molecular and nanoscale level. Work in the Barna lab is presently split into two main research efforts. The first is investigating “specialized ribosomes” and mRNA translation in control of gene expression genome-wide in space and time during development. This research is opening a new field of study in which fundamental aspects of gene regulation are controlled by ribosomes harboring a unique activity that “select” for specific mRNAs to translate by virtue of unique RNA regulons embedded within 5’UTRs. The second research effort is centered on employing state-of-the-art live cell imaging to visualize cell signaling and cellular control of organogenesis. This research has led to the realization of a novel means of cell-cell communication dependent on a dense network of actin-based cellular extension within developing organs that interconnect and facilitate the precise transmission of molecular information between cells.