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Research interests

The general goal of my research is to understand molecular mechanisms underlying the specification of cell types and developing methods to alter the fates of cells in vitro and in vivo. We recently discovered that small RNA molecules, microRNAs, could promote generation of post-mitotic neurons by demonstrating that expression of neuron-specific microRNAs and neural factors in non-neuronal cell types could directly reprogram their cell fates into functional neurons. We currently aim to 1) develop tissue culture models of neurological diseases using patient-specific neurons and to study cell autonomous properties associated with disease states in induced neurons, and 2) to identify molecular mechanisms underlying the neurogenic activity of neuron-specific microRNAs. We will use multiple interdisciplinary approaches (molecular genetics, genomics and biochemistry) to delineate how these microRNAs promote neuronal fates.

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