Embryonic development is one of the most beautiful processes in nature. However, when developmental processes go awry, then birth defects, cancer and other diseases can result.



Craniofacial Development and Renewal


A major focus in the lab is craniofacial and dental development, as malformations in these organs are among the most common congenital abnormalities and have profound impacts on the lives of patients and their families.

The maintenance, repair and growth of many adult organs, such as the bone marrow, skin, brain, and gastrointestinal tract, depend on tissue-specific populations of stem cells. We use the rodent incisor as a model system to understand adult stem cells. Unlike human teeth, the rodent incisor grows continuously throughout the life of the animal. We are working to understand the molecular processes that regulate the behavior of these stem cells, including their capacity to self-renew as well as to differentiate into the various cellular components of the tooth. We intend to use the insights provided by our experiments in mice to guide us in the use of stem cells in regenerating dental tissues as a paradigm for developing replacement organs


Gastrointestinal Regeneration


The ability to understand how adult stem cells develop and how they contribute to organ renewal is an essential aspect of regenerative medicine. The amazing ability of the mammalian gastrointestinal tract to renew has long fascinated biologists. Our research aims to address fundamental questions in this field, including the identity, regulation and plasticity of intestinal stem cells.

Signaling in Organogenesis


Development and regeneration are regulated by signaling molecules, and a main area of interest in our laboratory is how positive and negative modulators of signaling affect development, homeostasis and cancer. We are studying the roles of these molecules in the patterning and outgrowth of teeth, taste papillae, craniofacial and long bones, external genitalia, skin, and other organs. We are also examining the roles of these molecules in stem cells and cancer.