Research

My overarching goal is to understand how cells awaken from dormancy.

Quiescence is a reversible dormant state

Baker's yeast can remain dormant for long periods (possibly even up to thousands of years!) and can be 'reawakened' for growth. One type of reversible dormancy is quiescence. From bacteria to humans, most cells on earth reside in a quiescent state. In us humans, we keep populations of stem cells, which can exit quiescence and differentiate given specific signals.

In an emerging common process in quiescence entry, a cell's gene expression program shuts down, and its DNA packaging becomes more closed. How, then, do cells exit quiescence? What steps does a cell need to take to start its gene expression programs again? 

What drives gene expression during quiescence exit?

For some of my research, I use the baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which can be easily driven to quiescence through starvation. Using yeast as a model is great because we can harvest large vats of quiescent yeast cells to pursue questions that would otherwise be impossible.

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A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning by Peter Paul Reubens. The sun has risen and morning life is active again.