The principal focus of our laboratory is the interplay between genes, embryos and evolution. This research area has witnessed a remarkable resurgence of activity in the past 25 years, as new tools are applied to old problems. One major goal is to understand the genetic basis of morphological diversity, and another is to use comparative data to illuminate human biology. Homeobox genes are a particular focus of our research group. Currently, we are addressing the role of homeobox genes in early development of the embryo and in the biology of the gut and pancreas, and using comparisons between species to understand how homeobox genes gain new roles.
In earlier work, we used homeobox genes to provide the first clear evidence for genome duplications in early vertebrate evolution, provided new insights into the evolution of the vertebrate head, discovered and named the ParaHox gene cluster, provided a robust classification of all animal homeobox genes, and traced the evolution of the ANTP gene class including the Hox, ParaHox and NK gene clusters that play pivotal roles in patterning the body plan. We were also involved in the genome consortia for amphioxus, oyster, tapeworms, gar, butterfly and opisthokont protists. For information on the members of the laboratory, for publications, or for information on joining our research laboratory, please follow the links from this page.