The laboratory focuses on the developmental biology of hematopoiesis and cancer. We have collected over 30 mutants affecting the hematopoietic system. Some of the mutants represent excellent animal models of human disease. We also have undertaken chemical genetic approach to blood development and have found that prostaglandins upregulates blood stem cells. This has led to a clinical trial to improve engraftment for patients receiving cord blood transplants. We recently developed suppressor screening genetics and found that transcriptional elongation regulates blood cell fate.
The laboratory has also developed zebrafish models of cancer. We have generated a melanoma model in the zebrafish system using transgenics. Transgenic fish get nevi, and in a combination with a p53 mutant fish develop melanomas. We recently found a histone methyltransferase that can accelerate melanoma, and discovered a small molecule that blocks transcription elongation and suppresses melanoma growth.