Research programs in the department are focused on heart, lung, kidney, and liver organogenesis using zebrafish and rodent animal models, and through the study of embryonic stem cells and their differentiation into organs. Parallel translational studies are being pursued using animal disease models, disease modeling with patient derived induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, and clinical translational investigations with institutional review board (IRB) approved human study protocols.
Together these studies promise to yield new insights into the developmental origin of human disease pathogenesis. Some of the diseases of interest include congenital heart disease, cardiac hypertrophy and arrhythmias, as well as various renal diseases such as acute kidney injury (AKI) which has a high mortality and morbidity that has not decreased over the last twenty years. In addition, insights into the developmental regulation of cell lineage specification will have importance for regenerative medicine and the treatment of liver degenerative diseases such as primary biliary cirrhosis, or in cardiac and renal repair and regeneration. The faculty research programs in the department utilize a wide range of cutting edge high throughput technologies with large-scale genomics and systems approaches. Some examples include deployment of whole genome, exome, and transcriptome analysis with next generation sequencing technology, automation in high throughput chemical screens for drug discovery, and the pursuit of genetic analysis with large-scale mutagenesis screens
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