The Molecular Genetics and Developmental Biology (MGDB) graduate program provides an exceptionally exciting and vigorous academic environment for highly motivated and qualified students to prepare for a rewarding career in biomedical research. The members of the faculty have a wide diversity of interests and are pursuing research projects that address fundamental, contemporary issues in biology and medicine. We are also committed to postgraduate education and share as a major objective the integration of students into the most important aspects of our investigative work. The MGDB program brings together faculty in both basic and applied sciences, including researchers from the School of Medicine, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Magee-Womens Research Institute, and Biological Sciences. MGDB research is at the cutting edge of many emerging fields, including developmental and reproductive biology, stem cell biology, proteomics, computational biology, and genomics. Our work has direct relevance to acute injury, congenital disorders, cancer, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and other genetic diseases.
The faculty members in the MGDB program have diverse research interests that address fundamental and critical biomedical questions ranging from fundamental mechanisms to translational solutions. Faculty research interests can be broadly divided into three major areas:
Developmental and Reproductive Biology
Researchers in this area are focused on the broad scope of developmental events including early embryonic patterning, organogenesis, and the transition from gamete to a reproductive organism. Projects in this area utilize both human and model organisms to bring together diverse aspects of cell and developmental biology and their impact on disease pathology.
Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology
Researchers in this area are focused on the basic mechanisms controlling
- Embryonic stem (ES) cells, as well as adult stem cell growth, and induced pluripotent stem cells
- Tissue regeneration.
Specific projects include eye, heart, kidney, and liver regeneration, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that regulate ES cell differentiation, control of the cell cycle in hematopoietic progenitor cells and muscle stem cells, and regulation of gene expression in germ stem cells.
Researchers in this area are focused on the signaling and transcriptional response of cells to their environment. Project examples include glucose-induced kinase responses in yeast, immunoglobulin gene expression, and B-cell development, transcriptional responses of macrophages to cytokines and inflammation, and coupling of growth factor receptors to phospholipases and phosphoinositides. Mechanisms controlling DNA damage signal transduction, and the relationship of DNA repair to cancer. Myc/Max transcription factors, Bcr-Abl and Src tyosine kinases, and the p53 and Rb tumor suppressor proteins.