U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 Contact Info

Tel: 301-594-3479
Email: ln112e@nih.gov

 Select Experience

  • Staff ScientistNIDDK, NIH2004–Present
  • Research Assistant ProfessorDepartment of Human Genetics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine1997–2004
  • Ph.D.State University of New York at Stony Brook1991

 Related Links

  • Cell Biology/Cell Signaling
  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology/Biochemistry
Research Summary/In Plain Language

Research Summary

Research Goal

The nervous system contains complex cellular diversity but much is unknown about how or why this complexity exists.  The study of nuclear receptors has revealed critical steps in neurodevelopment and should reveal important insights into the underlying mechanisms of gene regulation.​

Current Research

My research is focused on the functions of nuclear receptors. This family of receptors control cellular responses via the regulation of gene expression. Nuclear receptors are ligand-dependent receptors and include receptors for many types of hormonal ligands, such as thyroid hormone and steroid hormones, and related ligands such as retinoic acid. These receptors mediate important functions in many tissues. We use molecular biology and genetic analysis to gain an understanding of how these receptors regulate development of different tissues. In the sensory nervous system, we find that nuclear receptors mediate critical functions in the devleopment of the auditory and visual systems.

Applying our Research

The development and maintenance of the nervous system is important for health. Many diseases result in neurodevelopmental defects or degeneration. For example, in the brain this can result in impaired mental function, or in the retina, this can result in retinal degeneration and loss of vision. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate the development and maintenance of the nervous system is essential for determining the basis of such diseases and for providing information that could be useful for the design of future treatments.

Need for Further Study

A crucial question concerns the identification of the downstream target genes that are regulated by nuclear receptors in different developmental processes. This will allow further studies to reveal the regulatory mechanisms of these receptors and the involvement of associated transcriptional cofactors. The identification and analysis of these target genes should provide key insight that will help us understand how a nuclear receptor controls development.