Research conducted in my laboratory is aimed at understanding the genetic and epigenetic basis for cellular differentiation in the mammalian embryo. The model systems we are implementing include the mouse preimplantation embryo and embryonic stem (ES) cells. Presently, we are investigating the role of SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling proteins in ES cell pluripotency and lineage-specification. In other cellular contexts the SWI/SNF-Brg1 chromatin remodeler plays important roles in muscle, neuronal, lymphoid and myeloid differentiation through the activation and repression of gene expression. To better understand the role of Brg1 during early embryonic development we are utilizing a number of molecular techniques including transgenic RNA interference (RNAi), gene expression analysis and genome-wide promoter analysis (ChIP-chip). The results of our analysis so far have identified a subset of genes regulated by SWI/SNF-Brg1 that are critical for preimplantation embryo development and ES cell pluripotency. This work has implications in assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and cellular reprogramming for cell replacement therapies as well as broader implications in cancer.
I teach half of Advanced Animal Genetics (ANS 404) and Principles of Animal Biotechnology (ANS 425) during alternating spring semesters.