Department of Pediatrics - Center for Pediatric Biomedical Research

Center for Pediatric Biomedical Research

It is becoming increasingly recognized that many childhood diseases originate during embryonic development and several investigators in the Center have a particular interest in the developmental biology of organogenesis.

  • The Ackerman laboratory is focused on elucidating the genetic causes of congenital diaphragmatic hernia and pulmonary hypoplasia by investigating the normal development of the embryonic diaphragm and lung.  The lab also uses forward genetic screening to used to identify novel gene mechanisms for congenital diaphragmatic hernia and other devastating structural birth defects.
  • The Bulger laboratory investigates the interplay between tissue-specific gene expression and large-scale patterns of chromatin structure with a focus on the beta-globin gene locus.  Abnormalities of this locus are the cause of sickle cell disease and thalassemia syndromes, the most common genetic disorders of children world-wide.
  • The Palis laboratory investigates stem and progenitor cell biology in the context of the developing organism with a particular focus on the blood-forming system. Understanding the developmental origins and regulation of stem cells will provide important insights into tissue maintenance and organ repair for the eventual cell-based treatment of multiple disease states that afflict children.

The human genome project inaugurated a new era of systems biology that deals with the integration of genome wide data to understand complex biological systems at the cellular and subcellular level.

  • The Steiner laboratory utilizes genomics techniques to study the molecular mechanisms underlying erythroid maturation and development. The laboratory is particularly interested in studying the interactions of specific DNA sequences, DNA binding proteins, and chromatin structure during the differentiation of erythroid cells in both normal and disease states.
  • The Mariani laboratory takes a genome-based approach, coupled with the generation and analysis of genetically modified animal models, to better understanding the regulation of lung development, focusing upon genes and pathways contributing to chronic lung disease.
  • The Phizicky/Grayhack and Dumont laboratories are developing new technologies to investigate protein structure and function on a genome-wide scale.  Current studies focus on expression, purifiacation, and crystallization of membrane proteins and protein complexes of yeast.

The open research environment within the Center fosters multidisciplinary interactions and engenders an ideal training environment for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.