The molecular and developmental basis for the majority of birth defects is unknown. Tissues and organs form during embryonic development through the integration of numerous signaling and transcriptional pathways. Our major goal is to define pathways controlling organ formation to understand normal development, the molecular basis for congenital and other genetic defects, and potential mechanisms for organ regeneration and repair. Our focus is primarily on the cardiovascular system, but the development of other organs and tissues is also being investigated in our laboratory.
We use a combination of gene knockouts, transgenic reporter assays, biochemical, computational, and genomic approaches to investigate basic developmental mechanisms. We primarily use the mouse as a model system, but several current projects also use cultured cells, zebrafish, and Drosophila as models to understand developmental gene regulation. Current work in the lab is focused primarily on cell autonomous mechanisms underlying gene regulation, tissue specification, organ formation during cardiovascular, craniofacial, neural crest, and skeletal muscle development and function.