Positions

Associate Professor
Ctr Stem Cell & Regen
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US
Member
Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas, United States

Education

PhD from University Of California, Los Angeles
Post-Doctoral Fellowship at California Institute of Technology

Professional Interests

  • Glial cell development and disease

Professional Statement

My laboratory studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control the generation and differentiation of glial cells. While glia constitute roughly 90% of the central nervous system (CNS) and are associated with numerous neurological disorders and malignancies, the transcriptional mechanisms that control their development and diversity remain shrouded in mystery. Using prospective isolation of stem cell populations from different stages of embryonic spinal cord, coupled with microarray analysis, we have identified a family of transcription factors (the Nuclear Factor I family or NFI) that control the specification of glial cell identity. One line of investigation in the laboratory involves using similar methods of temporal profiling of spinal cord stem cell populations from knockout embryos to identify target genes of NFI family members that are required for the initiation of gliogenesis. Another, related line of investigation includes the identification of the mechanisms that control NFI gene induction during CNS development.

Many of the markers that are normally expressed in glial cells are also expressed in gliomas, glial based malignancies of the CNS and the most common and deadly form of adult brain cancer. Consistent with this, NFI genes are also expressed in gliomas and manipulation of NFI gene expression in established glioma cell lines impacts tumor formation. Currently we are validating and extending these studies in more contemporary, stem cell models of glioma. Lastly, given that NFI genes are expressed in gliomas and may be important for tumorigenesis, the biology surrounding their normal function during gliogenesis is therefore also implicated in glioma biology. Thus, any of the NFI target genes or mechanisms that control their induction identified in the developmental studies, may also be pertinent to glioma biology and will be examined in this context.

Selected Publications