Gary Gaufo, Ph.D.
Ph.D.; University of California, Berkeley
M.A.; University of California, Berkeley
B.A.; University of California, Berkeley
The long-term goal of Dr. Gaufo’s laboratory is to understand the mechanisms that regulate plasticity in living organisms. In its simplest definition, plasticity is the capacity of single- or multi-celled organisms to adapt to their environment. Using the mouse as a model organism, the lab’s research focuses on neural crest and preimplantation embryonic cells to study plasticity. Neural crest cells are multipotent progenitor stem cells that are unique to vertebrates. In addition to giving rise to most peripheral neurons and glial cells, neural crest cells give rise to an array of cell types that make up the head. Preimplantation embryonic cells are the ultimate in vertebrate cellular plasticity; they have the potential to differentiate into both embryonic and non-embryonic tissues, which includes the placenta. These broad categories of cell types thus provide a solid platform the dissect the molecular basis of cellular plasticity in a mammalian model organism.
Dr. Gaufo's lab is interested in understanding how epigenetic and chromatin remodeling proteins control fate cells in the mouse. One project focuses on the contribution of neural crest cells on the postnatal growth of the skull. The lab has found that misregulation of the epigenetic landscape in neural crest cells during mid-gestation manifests in loss of multi-progenitor stem cells in the postnatal skull. This phenotype mimics the leading development disorder of the human skull. The other project explores mechanisms that prevent embryonic or adult somatic cells from de-differentiation or transforming into other cell types. The latter project is significant due to its broad implications from regenerative medicine and cancer to evolution.
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