Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be used as a model system to study the molecular basis of fate-specification during early mammalian development. They can also be used to derive various types of cells for disease modeling, drug discovery, regenerative medicine, toxicity testing, and environmental health studies.
Successful application of ESC and iPSC to the above studies depends on a thorough understanding of the mechanisms that control their self-renewal and differentiation. We have previously carried out a genome-wide RNAi screen in mouse ESCs and identified a list of novel genes that are important self-renewal. We are currently investigating the function of several of these novel genes in ESCs and iPSCs with biochemical, genetic, and genomic approaches.
In addition to the studies of those newly-identified self-renewal factors, we are developing and applying functional and chemical genetic approaches to identify and probe new genes and networks involved in stem cell fate specification. We plan to study the differentiation of ESCs into specific lineages and the self-renewal of other types of stem cells. We also plan to study the effect of environmental chemicals on ESC and iPSC differentiation and development.
Guang Hu, Ph.D., leads the Stem Cell Biology Group within the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis. He earned his Ph.D. in 2003 at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Hu was a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation fellow from 2004 to 2007 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School under Stephen Elledge, Ph.D., before joining NIEHS in 2009.