About Our Research
The main focus of the Genetics of Early Development Section is studying the C. elegans orthologs of genes, that when mutated, are known to cause disease in humans. This is a relatively new project for us. We believe that by performing genetic suppressor screens with C. elegans mutants, we can learn more about the mechanism of action of a given gene. This knowledge should help further our understanding of the function of this gene in humans. We also believe that some of our suppressors could end up being potential therapeutic targets for human disease. This work is discussed in greater detail in the Ongoing Projects description below.
The long-term goal of our research is to identify factors that act within a specific developmental process in C. elegans and to determine whether the genes involved are conserved in human cells. Genes identified in nematodes could be more easily studied to understand the conserved functions these genes play in human cells.
Our basic understanding of how simple organisms grow and develop will aid in our understanding of more complex organisms like humans. Since thousands of nematode and human genes are conserved, we can more easily study these conserved genes in a rapidly developing simple organism like. What we learn from this nematode may enlighten us as to the function of these genes in humans at the molecular and cellular levels.