Our research focuses on using the zebrafish to better understand human cancer and to develop novel insights into how it is that tumors can be remade following conventional chemotherapeutic intervention. Uncovering the downstream molecular pathways that lead to relapse will be integral to identifying novel drugs for the treatment of cancer.
We are interested in the development of the vertebrate musculo-skeletal axis. Using chicken and mouse embryos as model systems, we combine developmental biology and genomic approaches to study patterning and differentiation of the precursors of muscles and vertebrae. While most of this work has been carried out in vivo, we are now developing protocols to recapitulate these early developmental processes in vitro using mouse and human embryonic or reprogrammed stem cells. We are also turning to translational approaches, using our understanding of the early development to produce cells of the muscle and vertebral lineages in vitro from pluripotent cells to study human diseases of the musculo-skeletal axis and for cell therapy approaches.
Harvard University Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology
Joslin Diabetes Center
Harvard Medical School
Stem cells are rare and unique cells capable of generating many different types of cells needed in the body. In adult tissues, different organs contain different stem cell populations, each of which produces a subset of the body's cells. For example, hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells generate all of the red and white blood cells needed to deliver oxygen to body tissues, fight infection, and stop bleeding. Similarly, myogenic (muscle-forming) stem cells generate mature muscle fibers necessary for controlled contraction of skeletal muscle. Work in the Wagers Lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms that regulate the function of these blood-forming and muscle-forming stem cells so that their potential can be optimally exploited for the treatment of diseases such as cancer, anemia, muscular dystrophy, and diabetes.