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Dr. Thomas M. Schultheiss

The laboratory studies the early development of the vertebrate urogenital system. In particular, we study the specification of the intermediate mesoderm (IM), the tissue that gives rise to all kidney and gonadal structures. The laboratory is interested in identifying the tissues and signaling systems that regulate IM specification, and the transcription factors and other regulatory molecules that are activated during early IM differentiation. One current focus is on studying the roles of Retinoic Acid (RA) and Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signaling during IM formation. Another active area of investigation is investigating the function of odd skipped related 1 (osr1), a zinc finger transcription factor, during urogenital development. We also have ongoing projects in the identification and characterization of stem cells of the urogenital system. The main model system of the lab is the chicken embryo, which is used for transplant and explant studies, and for ectopic expression studies using viral and electroporation gene delivery approaches. We also make use of the mouse embryo for gene function studies.

A separate division of the laboratory studies early heart development. These studies include investigations into the role of BMP and Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF) signaling during avian heart development. Another project is using subtractive hybridization to clone novel genes involved in heart development. A third heart project, in collaboration with Dr. Seigo Izumo (Cardiology, BIDMC), investigates the development of the cardiac conduction system in avian and mouse embryos.