Vivian Gama, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology
Stem cells (both normal and cancerous) are defined by their ability to self-renew, in order to maintain their numbers, and their ability to differentiate into distinct cell types. Our lab is interested in uncovering new pathways regulating these stem cell properties. We are particularly interested in characterizing the functions of apoptotic proteins in maintaining self-renewal and pluripotency and in the regulation of differentiation and reprogramming. Using genetics, biochemistry, proteomics and live cell imaging we are uncovering the role of apoptotic proteins for the maintenance of the stem cell phenotype. We use embryonic stem cells (ESCs), induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and cancer stem cells (Glioblastoma and Medulloblastoma) as model systems. The lab focuses on three main lines of research:
1) Role of apoptosis proteins as modulators of stem cell self-renewal, pluripotency and differentiation.
2) Function of apoptosis proteins in maintaining the cancer stem cell pool.
3) Mechanisms by which mitochondrial network dynamics regulate normal and cancer stem cell fate.