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Overview of Research

The long-term objective of our research program is to understand the genetic control of organogenesis in mammals. We address questions that span the organ formation process, including:

  1. How are progenitor cells set aside for a specific organ?
  2. What drives the initial growth and organization of these progenitor cells to establish a morphologically distinct organ primordium?
  3. How is patterning, or regional differences (e.g. proximal versus distal, anterior versus posterior, dorsal versus ventral) of an organ achieved?
  4. What dictates diversification of cell fates from a uniform cell layer?
  5. How are organ stem cells maintained and activated?
  6. What restricts organ size?
  7. What controls the regeneration capacity of an organ?
  8. How do environmental factors such as viral infection or mechanical stress influence the formation of a functional organ?

We employ advanced genetic tools to generate mouse mutants and use them as models to understand the conserved and parallel progression of human organogenesis. Our aim is to gain knowledge on both the normal organ formation process, as well as the basis of congenital and acquired diseases.