One of my lab's long-term goals is to elucidate the transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms regulating retinal progenitor cell proliferation and differentiation, leading to new therapeutic interventions to restore sight and treat cancers such as retinoblastoma. Toward that end, projects aimed at characterizing mouse mutants suffering from defects in retinogenesis are ongoing. One specific aspect of our research is to determine precisely how mitochondrial activity and other bioenergetic pathways interface with cell cycle progression during development. Additionally, we aim to identify new strategies to promote retinal regeneration in response to photoreceptor damage. Here, we are interested in determining whether the mouse retina retains latent regenerative potential akin to other vertebrates such as the zebrafish and whether we can genetically "awaken" that potential to restore sight.
Our second focus is on the generation and characterization of novel mouse models recapitulating human craniofacial and neurodevelopmental birth defects. Recently, we have uncovered a previously unknown transcription factor network that is responsible for development of the neural crest-derived craniofacial skeleton.
In the lab, we employ (and enjoy) a multi-disciplinary approach utilizing genetic loss- and gain-of-function experiments, molecular biology and live retinal confocal microscopy.