An interdisciplinary team led by Dr. Ken Cho receives large NIH grant to explore gene regulatory networks controlling cell fate in early vertebrate development

The $3M award from NICHD will support three UCI faculty, Dr. Ken Cho and Dr. Ali Mortazavi in Developmental & Cell Biology and Dr. Eric Mjolsness in Computer Science, along with their colleagues Dr.Aaron Zorn (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital), and Dr. Taira Masanor (U. of Tokyo) in their study of early development.

Their project focuses on a major unanswered question in biology: How is differentiation of the many cell types found in adult vertebrates specified by the organisms genome?  Using the frog as a model system, they will combine experimental, genomic, and computational approaches to examine the mechanisms controlling formation of the endoderm.  Production of a thorough endodermal gene regulatory network in frog will provide information that will be applicable to reprogramming of stem cells to endodermal lineages in other vertebrates, including humans.