Our goal is to understand how naturally occurring human genetic variation protects (or predisposes) some people to cardiovascular and metabolic disease—the leading cause of death in the world—and to use that information to develop therapies that can protect the entire population from disease.
Our strategy is to identify patients, families, and cohorts with disease; to use genetic techniques such as genome-wide association studies and exome sequencing to identify novel DNA variants and genes linked to disease; to use human cell-based models and mouse models to understand how the DNA variants affect gene and protein function; and to use these mechanistic insights to begin the process of developing new therapies that will benefit patients and populations. In particular, we are interested in using human pluripotent stem cells to create human-derived tissues, containing specific DNA variants, as genetic disease models in which environmental and epigenetic influences have been minimized.
We also aim to use stem cells to enable regenerative medicine, in which a patient’s own cells can be genetically cured or made resistant to disease and then transplanted back into the body as a durable treatment.
Directed Differentiation of Stem Cells
This practical laboratory course will investigate the fundamental biology of human embryonic stem cells and their remarkable capacity to differentiate into all cells of the body. The underlying developmental pathways that guide embryonic stem cell development into these differentiated cell types will be explored. A chemical biology approach will also be used to probe properties of normal and disease model cells derived from embryonic stem cells. Prerequisite: Life and Physical Sciences A or Life Sciences 1a, or permission of instructor.