Our research is directed at understanding how evolution has shaped humans, particularly the skin and skin derived organs such as sweat glands, hair follicles and mammary glands. A primary goal of our research is to define the genetic basis for the evolution of ancient human-specific traits such as the loss of fur and the expansion of sweat glands. Complementing these efforts, we are also interested in uncovering the phenotypic significance of genetic variation that is responsible for the diversity of modern humans, such as population level differences in sweat gland density, mammary composition and differential disease risk. Our work utilizes a highly interdisciplinary approach that combines classical and quantitative genetics in mice and humans with developmental biology and evolutionary genomics. Informed by our findings from evolutionary biology, we are undertaking efforts to improve human health and alleviate disease in the areas of comprehensive skin regeneration and reproductive pathology.
• Dissection of molecular pathways underlying skin appendage development and evolution.
• Regeneration of human skin appendages in vitro.
• Discovery and functional modeling of evolutionarily significant human variants.