Our lab currently researches RNA-mediated gene regulation. In particular, to investigate post-transcriptional gene regulation mediated by microRNAs (miRNAs), we employ biochemistry, molecular biology, as well as genetic, biophysical, and computational approaches.
miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs involved in virtually all functional aspects of eukaryotic cells, including embryonic development, cell differentiation and proliferation, cell death, energy metabolism, and antiviral defense. Because tight control of miRNA levels is critical for normal functioning in cells, the dysregulation of miRNAs is often associated with human diseases such as cancer.
The main focus of the lab has been on the mechanism of miRNA biogenesis. By proposing a model for the biogenesis of miRNAs and by identifying several key factors such as Drosha, we have made major contributions to the current understanding of how miRNAs are created and processed in animal cells. More recently, we have been investigating the function and regulation of miRNAs in cancer and stem cells. These studies may potentially provide new opportunities for cancer treatment and stem cell engineering.