Our current research is focused on understanding the signaling pathways that regulate epithelial morphogenesis, with the ultimate goal of identifying novel druggable nodes to promote tissue regeneration and repair. The generation, maintenance, and repair of epithelial tissues require the coordinated regulation of multiple cellular processes, such as cell polarity, cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, and differentiation. We utilize in vivo and two- and three-dimensional culture models of epithelial morphogenesis, and employ a variety of screening and profiling methods to identify novel pathways regulating key cellular processes involved in morphogenesis. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms regulating epithelial progenitor cell fate decisions, because an imbalance in the differentiated cell types is observed in several pulmonary epithelial diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We want to understand how epithelial progenitors choose to differentiate down a particular lineage, and how that decision is de-regulated in disease.
The work in my lab is currently directed towards addressing three key goals:
Identification and characterization of the signaling pathways regulating airway basal cell fate decisions in normal and disease settings.
Understanding the mechanisms regulating the production and function of rare cell types in the airway.
Identifying the mechanisms regulating airway squamous metaplasia.