Areas of Research
Cell and Organism-Based Disease Models
Members of the department are using cell and organism-based models to investigate the molecular and genetic causes for several diseases. The proximity of basic and clinical research and the availability of state of the art infrastructure (e.g. imaging, genomics and transgenic core facilities) support this effort. Diseases under investigation include cancer, neurological diseases, bone diseases, heart diseases and metabolic diseases.
Cellular Signaling Networks
Biological signals that are transduced by complex regulatory networks control essentially all functions of the organism. Understanding the molecular nature of these networks, the mechanisms by which they influence biological processes and the ways in which malfunctioning signal transduction can cause disease is a priority of our research. Particular areas of interest include cell growth control, signal transduction and cell differentiation.
Stem Cell Biology
Stem cells offer new insights into principles of cell differentiation, organogenesis and regeneration. Stem cell-based therapies may provide innovative cures for a range of diseases. The department includes a number of internationally recognized experts in the fields of cancer stem cells, stem cell-based therapies and issue-specific stem cells.
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
The large-scale approaches of genomics proteomics etc. produce unprecedented amounts of biological information. To be useful these data need to be integrated into virtual models that describe biological processes and then to be aligned with experimental data. Such systems approaches in which theoretical modeling and experimental validation are paired ultimately aim at a holistic understanding of complex processes, such as cell growth, transformation, or development. A priority of the department is to provide the computational as well as experimental expertise that is required for such systems level analyses. The newly founded Center for Genomics and Systems Biology at U of R will expand this type of research significantly over the next few years. Topics that are currently studied with systems approaches are gene networks and tumor gene cooperation.
Large scale analyses of genomes, proteomes, transcriptomes etc. have become mainstream techniques in modern biology. These technologies are used by many laboratories in our department and supported by state-of-the-art infrastructure. Applications include transcriptome profiling, epigenetic gene regulation and chromatin and proteomics.
Research on a number of model organisms is conducted by our research groups. Genetics, genomics and cell biology are used to explore mechanisms of development and organism function. Organisms that are studied include mouse, drosophila, C. elegans and yeast.
Students entering graduate school through the program of Genetics, Development and Stem Cells will perform cutting-edge research on topics including organism function and development, disease models, stem cell biology. Advanced cutting-edge experimental systems in genetics, molecular biology, genomics, proteomics and computational biology are used and taught. This training will lead to a Ph.D. degree in Genetics, and will qualify students for high-level research careers in academia and in the burgeoning biotech industry.