My lab has two major research foci:
1. The biology of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a key process underlying tissue fibrosis. Our goal is to understand how normal epithelial cells (particularly of the kidney) transform into matrix-producing (scar-forming) invasive and contractile myofibroblasts. Our major interest is to explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms whereby injury of the intercellular contacts leads to EMT. This basic research allows insight into fundamental mechanisms responsible for the pathogenesis of major disease entities such as kidney and lung fibrosis and liver cirrhosis.
2. Signaling in osmotic stress and cell volume regulation. Normal volume and water content is vital for every cell. We investigate how dehydration and the corresponding cell shrinkage initiate adaptive responses that include reinforcement of the cell structure (cytoskeleton), remodeling of organelles, activation of ion transport processes and osmosensitive genes. We examine how volume-dependent signaling results in adaptation and survival or, in severe cases, a programmed cell death. This basic research helps elucidate how cells cope with stress conditions, which occur in a variety of disease states, including diabetes, dehydration, trauma and heart failure.