DNA structure and epigenetic modifications play a major role to regulate the gene expression patterns that define cell identity and function. Laboratories in Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences are developing and implementing cutting edge tools to explore genome regulation.
New technologies are enabling study of the physical organization and structure of the genome within the nucleus and how this impacts gene expression. The group led by Fulai Jin is studying the 3-dimensional architecture of the mammalian genome and its impact on cellular function. Kurt Runge’s lab is focused on the role of telomeres in chromosome stability using yeast as a model system.
Non-coding cis-regulatory elements such as enhancers are the molecular switches that control cell identity and function. The group led by Peter Harte uses drosophila as a model system to explore developmental regulation of homeotic gene expression. Multiple laboratories in the department investigate the contribution of enhancers to human disease including Peter Scacheri’s lab studying cancer initiation, maintenance, and metastasis with a specific focus on colon cancer and osteosarcoma, Ann Harris’ lab studying the epigenetic regulation of epithelial cells focusing on the CFTR locus where mutations cause cystic fibrosis, and Yan Li’s lab studying the functional role of DNA regulatory elements in complex diseases such as diabetes.