School of Medicine
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Assistant Professor of Genetics and of Developmental Biology
Current Research and Scholarly Interests Our 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. Work in the Barna lab is presently split into two main research efforts. The first is investigating ribosome-mediated control of gene expression genome-wide in space and time during cellular differentiation and organismal development. This research is opening a new field of study in which we apply sophisticated mass spectrometry, computational biology, genomics, and developmental genetics, to characterize a ribosome code to gene expression. Our research has shown that not all of the millions of ribosomes within a cell are the same and that ribosome heterogeneity can diversify how genomes are translated into proteomes. In particular, we seek to address whether fundamental aspects of gene regulation are controlled by ribosomes harboring a unique activity or composition that are tuned to translating specific transcripts by virtue of RNA regulatory elements embedded within their 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. We apply and create bioengineering tools to manipulate such cellular interactions and signaling in-vivo.
The Ernest and Amelia Gallo Professor in the School of Medicine, Professor of Urology, of Developmental Biology and, by courtesy, of Chemical and Systems Biology
Current Research and Scholarly Interests Function of Hedgehog proteins and other extracellular signals in morphogenesis (pattern formation), in injury repair and regeneration (pattern maintenance). We study how the distribution of such signals is regulated in tissues, how cells perceive and respond to distinct concentrations of signals, and how such signaling pathways arose in evolution. We also study the normal roles of such signals in stem-cell physiology and their abnormal roles in the formation and expansion of cancer stem cells.
Associate Professor of Developmental Biology, of Computer Science, of Biomedical Data Science and of Pediatrics (Genetics)
Current Research and Scholarly Interests Dr. Bejerano, co-discoverer of ultraconserved elements, studies the Human Genome. His research focuses on genome sequence and function in both humans and related primate, mammalian and vertebrate species. He is deeply interested in mapping both coding and non-coding genome sequence variation to phenotype differences, and in extracting specific genetic insights from high throughput sequencing measurements, in the contexts of development and developmental abnormalities.
Assistant Professor of Developmental Biology
Current Research and Scholarly Interests My lab focuses on investigating the role of three-dimensional genome organization in regulating gene expression and in shaping cell fate specification during development. We pursue this with advanced single-molecule imaging and transgenics.