“For the real amazement … is this process. You start out as a single cell derived from the coupling of a sperm and an egg; this divides in two, then four, then eight, and so on, and at a certain stage there emerges a single cell which has as all its progeny the human brain. The mere existence of such a cell should be one of the great astonishments of the earth. People ought to be walking around all day, calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing except that cell”
– Lewis Thomas (1979)
My research aims to understand the genetic and molecular systems that produce the head and heart, and to investigate how these mechanisms go wrong in human disease. In particular, I work closely with clinicians and geneticists to identify disease mutations that affect development in human patients, and then investigate the function of these genes in model systems. Discovering how these genes act will significantly improve our understanding of developmental and cell biology, as well as facilitate tailored treatment and genetic counseling for patients and their families. Furthermore, as developmental systems also regulate processes such as regeneration and cancer, this research has the potential to identify novel therapeutic strategies for adult disease.
I am currently a Senior Research Associate at the Duke School of Medicine.