Systems Biology of Stem Cells and Embryonic Development



Systems-level analysis of developmental timing and pattern formation


The vertebrate segmentation clock is a gene expression oscillator pacing rhythmic segmentation of the vertebral column during embryonic development. The period of the segmentation clock dictates the number and sizes of vertebrae. Fgf, Wnt, Notch and Retinoic Acid (RA) cell-to-cell signaling pathways interact with each other and act upstream the segmentation clock genes to regulate segmentation and differentiation of cells in the tissue. Defects in somite segmentation process result in birth defects (congenital scoliosis). 


In our lab, we focus on the following research topics:

Quantitative developmental biology, pattern formation, the pacemaker mechanism of the segmentation clock, regulation of the gene expression oscillations, morphogen gradients, stochastic gene expression and achieving precision in segmentation, mathematical modeling and computational simulations.


We aim to understand how these processes are controlled by the signaling pathways and their transcription factor targets. We utilize real-time imaging tools, time-controlled perturbation experiments, mathematical modeling, genome-wide techniques and bioinformatics to achieve these objectives. We use zebrafish as the model organism.