We study zebrafish development with a goal of understanding human neural disorders, retinal birth defects, and coloboma. We are also pursuing new methods of genome engineering using CRISPR nucleases.
More than 180 million people throughout the world are visually impaired. Of these, 45 million are blind. Our research focuses on finding the genetic causes of two blinding disorders, coloboma and Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis. We are currently generating zebrafish models for each disorder, with a focus on retinoic acid signaling in coloboma and BMP signaling in LCA.
Brain Ventricle Morphogenesis:
During embryonic development, the vertebrate brain forms a ventricle (lumen), which functions as a secondary circulatory system. We are studying the role of signaling pathways in regulating the formation of this critical neural structure.
Retinoic Acid in sensory organ development:
Retinoic acid, a derivative of vitamin A is a vitally important morphogen. Our lab is studying the role of retinoids in eye and ear development.
One of the most important methods of studying human disease is to create an animal model that has a mutation in a disease-causing locus. We are working to develop techniques to create zebrafish knockouts. We are using CRISPR technology to induce double strand breaks in genes of interest. Current efforts include developing techniques for gene replacement as a means of repairing genetic lesions.
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