Stem cells and Stress

Much of the work we do in the lab focuses on the understanding the genetic mechanisms that regulate the function of intestinal and testis stem cells under normal conditions (or homeostasis). This may take us a long way in our understanding of how mammalian stem cells, and in particular human stem cells, are regulated genetically, which will be critical to achieve a more accurate and beneficial use of stem cells in regenerative medicine.

But we also plan to use both systems to understand how stem cells are genetically wired to respond to perturbations in their normal conditions. Many human diseases are thought to be caused by deviations or failures in the normal response of stem cells to various stressful conditions, such as disease, starvation, oxidative stress or aging. If we assume that the genetic wiring for stem cell control in homeostasis is well conserved between flies and humans, it becomes possible that their genetic responses to perturbations be conserved as well. Therefore, we hope that our research will, in the long run, provide some clues for future research avenues with mammalian stem cells for the treatment of disease.