Cell Biology Faculty and Research
We explore tumor suppressive mechanisms that restrain mobile elements, examine how chromatin topology controls gene activity and interrogate molecular networks that control cell death.
Our lab focuses on how cancer cells develop the ability to survive stress conditions such as nutrient deprivation and chemotherapy. We use animal models and molecular biology approaches to identify molecular switches that control stress response and we investigate how cancer cells exploit these switches to develop survival skills.
We study how mechanical and chemical signals integrate in space and time to control cytoskeleton dynamics and membrance trafficking. We develop a minimially-perturbing experimental approach that exploits the intrinsic heterogeneity of cell dynamic states to probe the hierarchy and kinetics of mechanochemical signaling cascades.
The Fiolka lab extends the current imaging capabilities of optical microscopy such that cancer cell research and drug screening can be performed in physiologically relevant, 3D environments, ex vivo and in vivo. The microscope development is focused on improving the spatiotemporal resolution and optical penetration depth and translating the new technologies to biological research.
Our laboratory studies the cell biology of viral-host interactions. Our main focus is on the interplay between RNA viruses, such as influenza A and vesicular stomatitis viruses, and nuclear processes. We investigate interactions of virulence factors with RNA processing and nucleo-cytoplasmic trafficking, which regulate viral replication and antiviral response.
Our lab studies the spatial organization of mitochondria. We are focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms that govern cristae number and placement along the mitochondrial inner membrane. We are especially interested in how the cell dynamically modulates mitochondrial ultrastructure during shifts in metabolic demand, in different tissues, and under stress conditions.
We use fibroblasts interacting with 3D collagen as a model of fibrous connective tissue to learn about cell behavior in a tissue-like environment. Our research focuses on motile and mechanical interactions between cells and matrix. We analyze these interactions at global and subcellular levels to understand the impact of cell-matrix tension state on cell morphology and mechanical behavior.
Our lab studies how cellular membranes are sculpted during processes like vesicle budding, organelle biogenesis, and the formation of inter-organelle membrane contact sites. We employ both budding yeast and mammalian cell systems to reveal molecular mechanisms of this membrane remodeling, and our main projects use combinations of cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, and structural biology to deeply understand cellular sculpting events.
Our laboratory is interested in the molecular mechanisms governing cytokine receptor signal transduction in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, and understanding how deregulation in these mechanisms results in hematological malignancies and cancer.
My research focuses on islet biology and diabetes. Our long term-goal is to uncover mechanisms and processes that contribute to the maintenance of islet cell fitness and function. Currently we are studying ZnT8 in islet cells aiming to understand how Slc30a8 haploinsufficiency protects type 2 diabetes. We are also developing techniques and probes for monitoring islet beta cell mass or function in vitro and in vivo.
Our lab studies the role of adaptor proteins on plasma membrane function in the context of endocytosis and cellular signaling.
Our lab studies why cells utilize primary cilia to organize signaling, and how extracellular inputs are spatio-temporally integrated by these compartments. Studying ciliary signaling also provides a more general paradigm for studying cellular sensory networks in regulating developmental pathways, and disease pathologies.
Our lab studies 3D structures and cell biological functions of macromolecular complexes inside cells, such as molecular motors, microtubules in cilia, and cancer-related nuclear proteins.
We study the molecular mechanisms governing the function and inheritance of complex cellular organelles. In particular, we are investigating how the single Golgi apparatus is partitioned by the spindle machinery in mitosis as well as the regulatory role of the Golgi in organizing polarity during cell migration.
The Shay/Wright Lab studies the role of telomere biology in aging and cancer, the molecular mechanism of telomere replication and telomerase action, and how to translate these into clinical applications.
Our long-term vision is to create a synthetic cell that recapitulates changes in cytoplasmic state in response to fertilization. Additionally, we aim to understand how cell division errors arise that lead to cancer, developmental defects, and age-related infertility.