Li-Fang (Jack) Chu, PhD
The interest of the Chu laboratory is to identify the principles governing temporal and spatial patterning in development and disease. Following fertilization, the early mammalian embryonic development process constitutes a rapid series of well-coordinated cellular events that are essential to set the organism’s body plan. During this process, the temporal and spatial coordination between multiple cell types and tissues is particularly important because the variation in the relative timing of these processes can have serious consequences for the health and well-being of an organism. The genetic and molecular basis of developmental timing is largely unknown and remains an enigma. To begin addressing these questions, they recently developed an in vitro segmentation clock model derived from human embryonic stem cells. Equipped with this novel system, they hope to understand how this developmental clock operates and how mis-regulation of the clock causes congenital vertebral malformation and identify novel therapeutic targets. They are also interested in better understanding early embryogenesis, cellular reprogramming and disease modeling. The lab employs a combination of approaches including genetically engineered pluripotent stem cells, reprogramming, molecular biology, bulk and single-cell transcriptomics & bioinformatics, organoids, real-time live-cell imaging, and animal models.