Todd R. Evans
The overall goal of research in the Evans laboratory is to understand the molecular regulation of normal organ development during embryogenesis, and thereby to reveal the underlying genetic programs that, when deregulated, cause developmental defects and organ-based disease throughout life. We focus primarily on hematopoietic and cardiovascular programs, but also other organ systems including liver, gut, and pancreas. Our goal is to take a basic research with a developmental biology perspective to develop genetic, pharmacological, or cellular therapies to impact diseases, such as heart failure, liver disease, and cancer. Our experimental focus is on the key extrinsic developmental signaling pathways (TGF-beta, Wnt, etc.) and the intrinsic gene expression machinery that controls stem cell commitment, cell differentiation, and organ morphology (GATA, TBOX, bHLH transcription factors, translational control, epigenetics). We use two primary experimental systems: Embryonic stem cell models that are optimal for studying stem and progenitor cell biology, and zebrafish, which provides an exceptional animal model for studying organ development and morphogenesis. We seek to establish a triad of synergy, melding strong programs in basic research, clinical research and practice, and tissue engineering to develop targeted strategies for regenerative therapies. In addition, we have recently embarked on several new projects related to stem cell aging and chemical biology.