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Brian Oliver, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Brian Oliver
Scientific Focus Areas: Computational Biology, Developmental Biology, Genetics and Genomics

Professional Experience

  • Postdoctoral, Stanford University
  • Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • M.S., Iowa State University of Science and Technology
  • B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College

Research Goal

Our ultimate goal is to determine how the collective action of genes results in an individual with specific characteristics, development, and disease susceptibilities.

Current Research

Drosophila melanogaster is an important functional model system, boasting facile genetics, complex organ systems, complex behaviors, and a sequenced genome. Our long-term goal is to develop predictive models of gene function with a specific focus on sex differentiation in the germline. Our approach relies on high-throughput techniques used to profile biological processes such as expression, promoter occupancy, and chromatin status, in conjunction with computational analysis and genetics.

Applying our Research

Subtle perturbations in gene networks are likely to cause much of inherited disease susceptibility, but understanding how complex genotypes and environmental interactions result in disease will require experimental systems biology using model organisms. Predictive models for gene and pathway function will be important for diagnosis and ultimately intervention, fulfilling the promise of the human genome project.

Need for Further Study

We have a reasonable understanding of the functions of some individual genes, but we know very little about how they work together.

Select Publications

Effects of Gene Dose, Chromatin, and Network Topology on Expression in Drosophila melanogaster.
Lee H, Cho DY, Whitworth C, Eisman R, Phelps M, Roote J, Kaufman T, Cook K, Russell S, Przytycka T, Oliver B.
PLoS Genet (2016 Sep) 12:e1006295. Abstract/Full Text
Sex- and tissue-specific functions of Drosophila doublesex transcription factor target genes.
Clough E, Jimenez E, Kim YA, Whitworth C, Neville MC, Hempel LU, Pavlou HJ, Chen ZX, Sturgill D, Dale RK, Smith HE, Przytycka TM, Goodwin SF, Van Doren M, Oliver B.
Dev Cell (2014 Dec 22) 31:761-73. Abstract/Full Text
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Research in Plain Language

Many diseases run in families due to the inheritance of particular sets of genes. If scientists can predict how genes function, we will be able to greatly improve the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Studying model species can make this possible. Cells follow a genetic blueprint composed of complex webs of interacting genes. These networks function to ultimately “turn on,” “turn off,” and “fine-tune” particular sets of genes for specific conditions, times, or locations. Our experiments are helping us understand how these gene networks function. Based on our understanding of regulatory networks, we are developing models that predict gene function.