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Research Labs

Morphogenetic Signaling Network in Development and Disease

The global objective is to understand how embryos develop from a single cell to a complex organism, how genes control the development of organs and how abnormal regulation of these genes resulted in human diseases. We investigate the genetic control of cellular signaling and signal transduction mechanisms. By delineating these regulatory networks underlying normal developmental processes, we hope to advance the knowledge base of human diseases, leading to novel molecular therapies for the treatment of these diseases. To achieve our goals, we focus on:

  1. Characterizing morphogenetic signaling pathways that regulate mammalian development
  2. Elucidating the mechanism by which these developmental signals regulate cell growth, differentiation and survival
  3. Creating mouse models to study the molecular basis of human diseases

DNA

Visit the Wei Hsu Lab for more information

Orofacial Pain

The Orofacial Pain lab at the Center for Oral Biology is focusing on nerve injury related pains, pain modulation and its clinical application. The nervous system has the ability to either facilitate or inhibit pain. Pain, arising from external painful signals or injury, may undergo modulation in the Central Nervous System (CNS) prior to reaching the primary somatosensory cortex, thus modifying the pain experience. Faulty pain modulation mechanisms have been linked to chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, tension-type headache, musculoskeletal pain, chronic low back pain, trigeminal posttraumatic neuropathies, and irritable bowel syndrome. Exercise is a known trigger of pain modulation that has been used to evaluate pain modulation efficacy by means of an effect commonly termed Exercise-Induced Hypoalgesia (EIH).

microscope image of cells

Visit the Eliav-Khan Lab for more information

Salivary Gland Development and Regeneration

Saliva is critical for oral health, and salivary gland dysfunction has multiple and debilitating consequences. Saliva is produced by secretory acinar cells, the primary cell type in the submandibular, sublingual and parotid salivary glands, and is transported through a ductal tree to the oral cavity. Radiation therapy used to treat head and neck cancers leads to permanent loss of salivary gland secretory cells, which results in the chronic condition of dry mouth or xerostomia. The number of cancer survivors with xerostomia is increasing rapidly, due to the increased incidence of head and neck cancers, and improved outcomes for radiation therapy. To date, all treatment options are temporary and palliative.

Our laboratory is focused on two complementary approaches, one curative and one preventive, to address this significant problem:

  1. Regenerative strategies to restore salivary gland function in head and neck cancer survivors
  2. Improved protection strategies to prevent xerostomia in newly diagnosed patients

ovitt lab

Visit the Ovitt Lab for more information