Our Research

Most chronic diseases result from interactions between the environment and our genetics. The environment plays a role in many common conditions such as asthma, cancer, diabetes and neurological disorders; but the extent to which these factors and an individual’s genetic composition contribute to the etiology of these diseases remains unclear. The overarching goal of my research program is to improve understanding about environmental influences on human health and disease. I use two different approaches that involve:

  1. development of the Comparative Toxicogenomics Database (CTD), and
  2. using the zebrafish model to understand how the environment affects vertebrate development.

The Comparative Toxicogenomics Database (CTD)

CTDThe Comparative Toxicogenomics Database (CTD) is a publicly available database that provides manually curated information describing: a) chemical-gene interactions, b) chemical-disease relationships, and c) gene-disease relationships. These data are integrated with other datasets and novel tools to inform hypothesis development about chemical-gene-disease networks. Meet the CTD team.

Why zebrafish?

zebrafish_ncsuThe zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a really powerful model for research in cancer biology, drug discovery, regeneration, epigenetics and understanding the underlying mechanisms of diverse human diseases from cardiovascular to neurodegenerative conditions. Zebrafish are highly fecund with short generation times (3-5 months). Eggs can be obtained in abundance (100s per female per day). Zebrafish eggs are fertilized externally, are relatively large (0.6 mm), transparent and readily manipulated by microinjection techniques. Rapid development from a zygote to the hatching period (~48 hours) provides many advantages over mammalian models because organogenesis can be observed under a dissecting scope and they’re significantly cheaper to maintain (<1%).

I have a joint lab with Antonio Planchart – so be sure to check out his site as well!!