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Genetics & Genomics

Researchers in MCDB are using genetic and genomic tools to investigate fundamental questions of cell and developmental biology in a wide variety of plant, microbial, and animal organisms. Research teams are investigating both established model systems, such as mice, nematodes, and the plant Arabidopsis, as well as a number of emerging marine model organisms. Ongoing genetic studies are shedding new light on the mechanisms underlying cancer, organ development, regeneration, fertilization, cell signaling, transcriptional regulation, and microbial pathogenesis (among others). Research teams in MCDB have played important roles in genome projects including those for the ciliate protozoa Tetrahymena, the ascidian Ciona savignyi, and the marine sponge Amphimedon queenslandica. MCDB is home to organized genetic resource centers for Tetrahymena and Ciona. Facilities available to genetic and genomic researchers includes on site next-generation sequencing, a shared state of the art microscopy facility, and extensive resources for the study of marine organisms.


Diego Acosta-Alvear

Cells employ complex mechanisms to maintain homeostasis. If homeostasis cannot be restored, apoptosis is initiated to eliminate injured cells for the benefit of the organism. This dichotomy places these homeostatic mechanisms -collectively known as cellular stress responses- at the core of the survival versus death decision. In disease, abnormal cells can remodel their stress responses to gain a survival advantage or evade apoptosis.

Carolina Arias

Our lab focuses on understanding virus-host interactions. Because of the strict dependence of viruses on the molecular machineries of their hosts, complex strategies have evolved to enable viruses to control the cell to their advantage. In a way, viruses can be thought of as molecular tinkerers that became engineers. As such, viruses provide unique opportunities to peer into the inner workings of the cell: by understanding the mechanisms by which viruses control their host cells, we get valuable insights into basic cell biology.

Rolf Christoffersen

Molecular biology of plant secondary metabolism; biochemistry of ethylene synthesis.

Anthony De Tomaso

Molecular mechanisms of self/non-self recognition in non-vertebrates; characterization of stem cells and development processes underlying regeneration and aging.

Ruth Finkelstein

Molecular genetics of plant development; analysis of abscisic acid signaling networks.

Christopher S. Hayes

Molecular genetics and biochemistry of bacterial contact-dependent growth inhibition (CDI) systems; mechanisms of tmRNA- and ArfA-mediated ribosome rescue.

Kenneth S. Kosik

Neural plasticity including the molecular basis of plasticity, the evolution of synapses, and disease-related impairments of plasticity such as occurs in Alzheimer's disease.

David Low

Cellular communication between bacteria, including mechanisms and biology of contact-dependent growth inhibition; epigenetic gene regulatory mechanisms.

Michael J. Mahan

Microbial pathogenesis; innate and adaptive immune responses to infection; vaccine development.

Craig Montell

A central question in neurobiology is how an animal senses the environment and uses this information to modify behavior and decision making. Our laboratory is defining the mechanisms through which environmental temperature, light, gustatory and olfactory cues, and mechanical forces influence behavior. To tackle these problems, we are using the fly, Drosophila melanogaster, because it allows us to employ a combination of molecular, cellular, biochemical, electrophysiological and genetic approaches.

Denise J. Montell

My laboratory uses a combination of molecular, genetic, and state-of-the-art imaging approaches to define and solve fundamental questions in cell and developmental biology with implications for neurodegenerative disease, ischemic diseases and cancer.

Daniel E. Morse

Bio-inspired catalytic nanofabrication, tunable photonic materials and dynamic self-assembly. Applications to semiconductors, high-power batteries, electro-optics, IR and solar energy.

Eduardo Orias

Tetrahymena genetics and genomics; genetic, physical and sequence mapping of the germline and expressed genomes of the unicellular eukaryote, Tetrahymena thermophila.

Stephen Poole

Molecular genetics of Drosophila development, focusing on genes with dominant misexpression phenotypes in adult bristles. Bioinformatic analyses of contact-dependent growth inhibition systems in diverse bacterial species.

Joel Rothman

Molecular and genetic control of development in the nematode C. elegans; regulation of programmed cell death; mechanisms of tumorigenesis.

Charles E. Samuel

Antiviral innate immunity and interferon action, with focus on the roles of double-stranded RNA in translational control by the PKR kinase and A-to-I RNA editing by the ADAR1 deaminase.

William Smith

Developmental genetics and morphogenesis of the primitive chordate Ciona.