One of the long-term goals of our research is to understand the behaviors of cells in regenerating tissues, both individually and collectively as a population. For example, do stem cells make special contacts with neighboring cells and do they divide with different orientations under different conditions (asymmetric versus symmetric divisions)? How are blood vessels organized in relation to other cell types during regeneration? We also need to understand how stem cell progeny that become committed to differentiate remove themselves from the influence of the niche and move to new locations to achieve their normal function.
One way of studying these processes is to image tissue regeneration in vivo or in artificial environments designed to mimic the normal environment. This strategy requires genetic tools to highlight cells of interest, imaging platforms to observe living cells over hours or days using high resolution, time-lapse confocal microscopy, and computational analysis to quantify and interpret cell behaviors.
Two well-equipped imaging facilities with full time directors are available for helping Program members achieve these goals and several members have their own confocal or spinning disc microscopes.