What do we do?
We study gene network "switches" that control the dormancy and growth of normal and cancer cells. Currently, our particular focus is on the distinction and connection between two dormant cellular states, quiescence (reversible) and senescence (irreversible), both being regulated by an Rb-E2F-Cdk gene network switch and its interacting pathways (e.g., cell metabolism and circadian rhythm).
(An example of our recent findings)
Quiescence has long been believed to protect cells from senescence that is linked to stress (e.g., DNA replication stress and damage) responses of proliferating cells during aging. Our recent work, however, demonstrated that quiescent cells, without going through proliferation, can gradually transit (deepen) into senescence, similar to a dimmer switch.
What is the goal of our research?
We aim to develop an integrated understanding of different cell dormancy states and their connections to cancer and aging. Currently, we aim to elucidate the "dimmer" control mechanisms underlying the quiescence deepening toward senescence and their potential applications in anti-cancer, anti-aging, and regenerative medicine.
What is our approach?
We use an integrated computational and experimental approach. Specifically, we combine single-cell and -omics measurements, together with mathematical and machine learning models, to dissect complex and heterogeneous biological systems.