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My laboratory uses an interdisciplinary approach in order to better understand evolutionary and developmental aspects of the vertebrate immune system and of morphogenesis of body plans. We actively utilize comparative genomics approaches. We seek to unify modern genomics approaches, evolutionary biology, population genetics theory and developmental biology into a coherent line of investigation. We use "deep branches" in vertebrate phylogeny (primarily very ancestral lineages of fishes and protochordates) in our research. These deep branches serve two purposes: first, they allow us to study the genomic and genetic origins of characters germane to higher vertebrates, including humans; and second, they provide very good vantage points for making comparisons with other organisms and to understand the origins of biological innovations, such as limbs and adaptive immune systems.
We are currently addressing three major lines of research. (1) What are the primordial mechanisms used to generate an immune response? How is the genome involved in creating and diversifying such a response? And how did the adaptive and innate arms of the immune system co-evolve and become functionally interdigitated? Finally, how can we incorporate genomic approaches to address major problems with regard to the immunological arms race? (2) How have changes in genomic architecture and organization contributed to differences in body plans that we see amongst all metazoan species? What are the parallels between such evolutionary changes and disease manifestation? And (3) How has vertebrate chitin evolved? What are the molecular evolutionary trends in the evolution of vertebrate chitin synthases? How is vertebrate chitin utilized physiologically since it does not form hard, horny structures? Can vertebrate chitin be used in biotechnology?
B.S. (Genetics, 1981), Purdue University
Ph.D. (Genetics, 1987), Texas A and M University
Postdoc (Molecular Genetics, 1987-1990), Tampa Bay Research Institute
Postdoc (Genomics, 1990-1993), Lawrence Livermore Natl. Lab
Assistant/Associate Professor (Human Genetics, Pediatrics, 1993-2001), Boston University School of Medicine
Associate Member (Molecular Genetics Program, 2001-2003), Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason
Full Member (Molecular Genetics Program, 2004-2017), Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason
Affiliate Full Professor (Biology, 2004-), University of Washington
Full Member (Cell and Molecular Biology Program, 2005-2017), University of Washington
Full Member (Genome Sciences Training Program, 2005-2017), University of Washington
Program Director, National Science Foundation (Developmental Systems and Evo-Devo, 2007-2008), Arlington, VA
Full Professor (Molecular Cell Biology, 2017-), University of California, Merced, CA
Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2017)