Developmental biology, stem cell biology, cancer
Developmental mechanisms are often re-initiated during disease, therefore, defining molecular mechanisms driving proper gastrointestinal development will provide insight into mechanisms behind gastrointestinal disease, including cancer.
The Battle Lab has previously identified that GATA factors 4 and 6, zinc finger transcription factors, play an essential role during gastrointestinal development. Additionally, GATA4 and GATA6 are commonly silenced or aberrantly expressed during the progression of gastrointestinal disease to cancer. I am currently examining the molecular mechanisms of GATA factor function during gastrointestinal development and disease utilizing mice, human patient derived organoids and the differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells into gastric and intestinal organoids. I plan to combine these model systems to define the mechanistic pathways driven by GATA factors during gastrointestinal development and disease in order to aid in the identification of downstream targets and biomarkers present during the progression of normal gastric epithelium to disease, with an emphasis on cancer.