Gene Regulation and Chromatin Structure:
Every cell in an organism contains the same genome – the set of all genes that are written in the DNA. Despite this fact that cells all share the same list of genes, there is a huge variety of cell types. This arises in part because different cells use differing sets of genes. What allows a cell to turn on only a certain set of its genes? Many genes are controlled by specific programs encoded in the DNA that turn them on or off in response to particular spacial and/or temporal cues. The structure of the DNA also influences how genes are regulated. In higher organisms the genome is meticulously packaged into a structure called chromatin. In collaboration with several experimental groups we are analyzing factors that regulate chromatin structure, and developing models for how the structure of DNA influences gene expression.
Biochemical Networks and Cellular Decision Making:
My lab is also interested in the dynamical properties of biological networks. Given a set of interacting genes and their various regulatory interactions, can one model the temporal behaviour of the entire network and make predictions about its function. In particular, how do physical constraints influence the types of biochemical calculations that bacteria need to perform in order to carry out the tasks that they need to perform in order to survive.