Current research in Genetics in the Department of Biology includes:

  • Developmental biology of the eye: The Belecky-Adams research group examines several aspects of visual system function, including 1) the dynamics of chromatin organization in retinal and optic nerve development and disease, 2) understanding the photoreceptor in health and disease, 3) the regeneration of the retina and optic nerve.  Our findings can be directly translated into new preventative and therapeutic tools for the treatment of such diseases as glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, and Joubert syndrome.
  • Physiology of polycystic kidney disease: The Blazer-Yost research group examines the role of kidney, intestinal and lung epithelia in salt and water homeostasis. Their research uses physiological techniques to understand and develop drugs to treat polycystic kidney disease.
  • Mechanisms of cellular proteasome assembly: By using yeast as a model organism, the Kusmierczyk lab investigates the assembly of the eukaryotic proteasome.  The long term goals of the lab are to inhibit proteasome assembly and utilize these mechanisms as drug targets for cancer treatment as well as analyze mechanisms that cells use to ensure protein quality control.  
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells for studies of neural development and disease:  The Meyer lab uses induced pluripotent stem cells to study mechanisms of neural fate determination, with a particular focus on the retina of the eye.  Additional studies focus on the ability to use patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells to understand mechanisms of neurological diseases. 
  • Mechanisms of DNA repair and recombination: The goal of research conducted in Malkova laboratory is to unravel the mechanisms of DNA repair using baking yeast as a model.  The lab is focusing on double-strand DNA breaks, which can be very dangerous for human cells since their abnormal repair leads to genetic instability, which is believed to promote cancer in humans. The laboratory research focuses on two areas: the mechanism and genetic control of one particular pathway of DSB repair which is called Break-Induced Replication (BIR) and mechanisms that channel repair of double-strand breaks (DSBs) into gross chromosomal rearrangements (GCRs).
  • Population genetics of ephemeral resource-associated arthropods: The Picard lab looks to elucidate the population genetic structure of insects associated with ephemeral resources, specifically using the association of the blow fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and carrion as a model.   Our long terms goals are to characterize the population structure of several species based on distinct life history differences, and model population structure. This research has direct implication in forensics, where many of these organisms are used to estimate the minimum time since death (PMI), but dependent on a wide range of assumptions we hope to address.
  • Genetics of pituitary gland organogenesis: The Rhodes lab research program investigates the genetic pathways that control pituitary gland organogenesis. Through collaborations with pediatric endocrinologists, they have translated this work to the clinic, defining new forms of combined pediatric hormone deficiency diseases and developing new diagnostic and genetic counseling tools.
  • Genetics of craniofacial and skeletal abnormalities in Down syndrome: The Roper lab uses mouse models of Down syndrome to understand the cellular and genetic mechanisms disrupted by trisomy in neural crest and other skeletal precursors. The long term goal of their research is to use these findings to develop effective screening, therapeutic and preventative strategies for phenotypes associated with Down syndrome.
  • Epigenetic regulation of mammalian development: The Skalnik laboratory is interested in understanding the epigenetic regulation of mammalian development.  We use a variety of genetic and biochemical approaches to identify and study critical regulators of epigenetic modifications, chromatin structure, and gene expression.