Our lab is interested in better understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying different human diseases using genomic approaches. In particular, we are using next generation sequencing to address fundamental biological questions that were difficult to investigate with former technologies. Currently, we are focusing on two research themes: malaria genomics and epigenetic regulation of metabolic traits.
Molecular Basis and Consequences of Developmental Epigenetic Programming - While diet and lack of physical exercise are the main risk factors for obesity and diabetes, epidemiological and animal studies have shown that intrauterine conditions can also influence the regulation of body weight and glucose homeostasis in adulthood. We have developed a mouse model of diet-induced maternal obesity and we are using a combination of high-throughput genomic tools to better understand the influence of the maternal metabolic status during gestation on the regulation of metabolic traits in adult offspring.
Whole genome sequencing of Plasmodium vivax - Plasmodium vivax is the main cause of malaria outside Africa with up to 390 million clinical infections each year. In contrast to P. falciparum, P. vivax cannot be propagated in continuous in vitro cultures which greatly limits our understanding of the parasite’s biology. We are sequencing the entire genome of P. vivax isolates directly isolated from blood samples of infected patients. Our analyses provide rigorous characterization of the genetic diversity throughout the genome. We are applying this approach to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying different parasite traits with a focus on red blood cell invasion and drug resistance
My laboratory uses recent developments in genomic technologies to investigate various biological questions.
We are studying the molecular consequences of maternal nutrition during pregnancy in adult offspring. In particular, we are interested in understanding why genetically identical offspring born from lean vs. obese female mice respond differently to high fat diet in adulthood (and develop diabetes and obesity). Our findings will provide a better understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the life-long metabolic consequences of maternal obesity, which currently affects 20-40% of pregnant women in the US.
A second area of research of my lab is malaria. Malaria is disease transmitted by bites of Anopheles mosquitoes infected by plasmodium parasites. We are sequencing the genomes of Plasmodium vivax strains directly isolated from infected patients, as well as of some of the Anopheles species transmitting these parasites, to better understand the biology of these organisms and, eventually, develop better control or elimination strategies