Assistant Professor of Medicine
The primary focus of my research is to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying stem cell maintenance and differentiation with the goal of translating this information into therapeutic strategies. We have identified that distinct levels of the transcription factor, Sox9, differentially mark stem cells and progenitor cells in the small intestine epithelium. Using a novel Sox9EGFP mouse model, cell surface markers, and FACSorting we are able to specifically enrich for single multipotent intestinal epithelial stem cells that are able to generate ‘mini-guts’ in a culture system. Our studies are now focused on manipulating, in vitro, the genetics of stem cell behavior through viral gene therapeutics and pharmacologic agents. Additionally, we are developing stem cell transplantation and tissue engineering strategies as therapies for inborn genetic disorders as well as damage and disease of the intestine. A new area of research focus is on cancer stem cells. Using novel animal models and tissue microarrays from human colon cancers, we are investigating the role of Sox9 in colorectal cancer and assessing Sox9 expression patterns as a predictor of outcomes.