- 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
Our ultimate goal is to determine how the collective action of genes results in an individual with specific characteristics, development, and disease susceptibilities.
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.
- Sperm Head-Tail Linkage Requires Restriction of Pericentriolar Material to the Proximal Centriole End.
- Galletta BJ, Ortega JM, Smith SL, Fagerstrom CJ, Fear JM, Mahadevaraju S, Oliver B, Rusan NM.
- Dev Cell (2020 Apr 6) 53:86-101.e7. Abstract/Full Text
- Drosophila Heterochromatin Stabilization Requires the Zinc-Finger Protein Small Ovary.
- Benner L, Castro EA, Whitworth C, Venken KJT, Yang H, Fang J, Oliver B, Cook KR, Lerit DA.
- Genetics (2019 Nov) 213:877-895. Abstract/Full Text
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.