Lab Focus: Molecular Mechanisms of Robustness to Developmental Perturbations
Acutely ill premature and term newborn infants are exposed to environmental perturbations such as high/low oxygen tension as part of their disease process. These perturbations can cause cellular damage during a critical time of maturation for the brain and other organs, contributing to disorders such as cerebral palsy, autism and seizures. I have established an in vivo zebrafish model system to study acute and repetitive stress during embryogenesis and have used it to identify novel, conserved stress-protective factors through genome-wide expression screens and functional assays. These novel genes may provide additional insight into stress-protective and hypoxia-protective mechanisms, and ultimately therapeutic strategies for acutely ill and/or preterm infants.