Profile and Department: Senior Scientist, Sunnybrook Research Institute
Our overarching goal is to understand how gene regulatory networks direct the differentiation of multipotent progenitor cells into differentiated cell types. Our work focuses on the development of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) into hematopoietic stem cells, and their development into different types of T cells. We are especially interested in understanding the functions of HEB transcription factors during these fate choices. Using human PSCs and mouse models, our studies have shown that HEB has essential functions in mesodermal formation, the generation of hematopoietic stem cells, and the generation of T cells capable of producing the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-17. Future directions include creating reporter lines to evaluate the kinetics of combinatorial expression of HEB and other transcriptional regulators during specification of stem cells towards alternative fates.