The primary goal of the group is to develop novel strategies to repair, regenerate and image damaged or diseased tissues. The success of this effort requires a multidisciplinary approach, hence, the group combines the disciplines of cellular and molecular biology, material science, imaging and medicine; diverse expertise but a shared mission.
Major interests include basic fundamental science and translation research:
The work pursued under this topic includes the following project areas:
The head is the most complicated structure of the body, housing the brain, sense organs and feeding organs and the commonest birth defects affect organs and tissues of the head. Research investigating the mechanisms that control head development underpins a broader understanding of the genetic basis of craniofacial malformations. A multidisciplinary approach using different experimental models and techniques is employed to investigate cell signaling and transcriptional networks regulating development of craniofacial organs such as teeth, palate, sense organs, salivary glands muscle, skeleton and the brain.
Stem cells are found in most adult organs where they act as reservoirs of cells for continued growth or tissue repair following damage. Stem cells from several different craniofacial organs are being studied to understand their in-vivo function and cell biology and also their potential uses for clinical therapies involving the enhancement of natural repair processes and regenerative approaches to generate replacement tissues and organs for transplantation.
The precise integration of the many forces and growth factors acting upon embryonic tissues such as a simple neural tube is required for the development of complex organs such as the brain. We are interested in how intracellular signalling pathways are coordinated and regulated during the morphogenesis of complex organs and structures. Many cell surface receptors use reversible tyrosine phosphorylation as a means of signal transduction. Studies in a number of biological systems have suggested that these signalling pathways are not merely ON:OFF switches but that subtle differences in signal strength and duration often result in profoundly different outcomes. The broad aim of our research is to understand how signalling is regulated to achieve proper tissue morphogenesis, patterning and cell fate specification.
Cerebellar morphogenesis: The cerebellum is the brains control centre for motor coordination and defects in cerebellar development are often associated with ataxia or medulloblastoma, the most common type of childhood cancer. We are interested in how the cerebellum is constructed during embryonic and early postnatal development. Studies on conditional mid-hindbrain-specific Sprouty mutants have shown that these genes play important roles during postnatal cerebellar morphogenesis and we are investigating this process using inducible, conditional gene inactivation approaches in vivo.
Thymus organogenesis, pharyngeal pouch patterning and DiGeorge syndrome: Our recent experiments have indicated that several essential organs such as the thymus, parathyroid, middle ear and cardiac outflow tract that develop wholly or in part from the pharyngeal apparatus exhibit multiple defects in Sprouty mutant mice. These same organs are affected in 22q11 deletion or DiGeorge syndrome and we are investigating the molecular and developmental basis of these defects in mouse embryos.
Brain defects in CHARGE syndrome: We recently produced mouse models for CHARGE syndrome in which the gene mutated in this syndrome, Chd7, has been targetted. Current research efforts in the lab are focused on elucidating the function of this gene during brain development.
Adult stem cells: Several of the genes and signalling patwhays we study have roles in adult tissue stem cells. We use conditional gene targetting approaches to remove gene function in stem cell populations in the adult to understand their function.
Lab website: http://basson.openwetware.org/
The Dental Institute is an international leader in the development of novel teaching methods. Research work in this area is focused at evaluating such novel techniques as well as investigating ways to improve teaching and assessment. Current project areas include:
Dental Public Health research is concerned with the health of populations and healthcare delivery to populations. The dental institute facilitates high quality research in support of oral health improvement and the delivery and organisation of high quality evidence-based care. It involves a health systems approach that seeks to understand health and the wider determinants of health, influence pathways to care and the delivery of healthcare, together with the recruitment and retention of the appropriate workforce skill-mix.
Dental Public Health involves a range of research methods from epidemiology to qualitative research involving interviews and focus groups. It includes quantitative methods such as questionnaire surveys, secondary analysis of health related data and operational research modelling. This involves working closely with clinicians, educationalists, social and behavioural scientists and statisticians in multidisciplinary health services research on the following key areas:
Social determinants of oral health inequalities and use of patient-centred outcomes in dentistry
Dental caries and periodontal disease are the commonest bacterial disease of man. Microbiology is therefore central to all oral and dental research. Dental Institute microbiology staff perform basic research into fundamental aspects and mechanisms related to the oral microbiota as well as engaging in a wide range of collaborations with clinical colleagues.
Current project areas include:
Mucosal surfaces represent the major route of entry of infectious microorganisms and are protected by the secretory/mucosal immune system. Research in this area aims at understanding host pathogen interactions at mucosal surfaces, basic immunological responses to exogenous stress and immunopathology of autoimmune mucocutaneous disorders.
The group aims to develop molecular tools for early diagnosis and prediction of responses to radio and chemotherapy. A number of genetic pathways are commonly deregulated in head and neck cancers including the p53 family, the inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs), as well as kinases including EGFR and PKC-beta. We are investigating these pathways as possible therapeutic targets for the development of small molecule inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies, peptides and microRNAs.
The research work of this topic is founded on an established national leading orofacial pain and trigeminal nerve injury services, with support from liaison psychiatry, psychology, neurosurgery, neurology and pain management. The research ranges from the determination fo the molecular basis for pain through the identification of biomarkers to the development and evaluation of novel therapies.
Current areas of interest include:
The work performed in this topic covers a wide range of research from basic cell biology and immunology to the development and evaluation of novel treatments for periodontal disease.
In this area academic and clinical experts work on a range of projects from basic studies of saliva and salivary gland function to clinical monitoring and treatment of saliva-related disease.
Oral health is critically dependent on behaviour – attendance at the dentist, dietary behaviour, smoking cessation and self-care routines. Social and behavioural sciences provide a critical insight into the determinants of behaviour and how these can be modified. Among other areas, the team are researching in the following areas: