Systems Biology Research in the Megason Lab


Here I have a brief description of my prior research in the Megason Lab at Harvard Systems Biology.
 

What is Systems Biology?

Systems biology is the quantitative study of the fundamental principles of operation of biological systems.  This is accomplished through the combination of techniques from a variety of disciplines, such as Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics.  This interdisciplinary approach allows us to study not just individual proteins or cells in isolation, but analyze and understand how the connections between proteins, genes, and cellular networks generate the emergent phenomena observed in biology.  It also allows us to develop computational models of how these systems function, much like circuit diagrams or physics simulations, so that predictions about biological function and avenues of new research can be explored rapidly.
 

Fin Regeneration in Zebrafish

During my time in the Megason Lab, I worked on zebrafish, which are small striped aquarium fish:


Image Source: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/wiki/File:Zebrafisch.jpg

My primary research interest was to understand how regeneration functions: how it is initiated, how the regenerating tissue achieves the correct size and shape, and how it is terminated.  To investigate these questions, I worked on analyzing these mechanisms of control in zebrafish fin regeneration.  Zebrafish are particularly suited for this study as they have the ability to regenerate a wide variety of tissues including their fins, heart, spinal cord, retina, optic nerve, and ear sensory cells.  A secondary interest was also to determine where the regenerated cells arise from, what cell types they form, and what dynamic behaviors they exhibit (such as division rate, localization, etc.).  The primary technology I utilized was quantitative high-resolution imaging, which allows for exact cell tracking and mapping of a regenerating fin, as zebrafish are nearly entirely transparent during their development.  These experiments will hopefully give us insight into not only the basic questions of how regeneration functions, but also help in developing future regenerative therapies in humans to repair damage from injury, disease, or aging.

I also developed a web-based zebrafish database and inventory system, GoFishDB.  A full description is available at the GoFishDB page here.

You can also read about my computational research in the Wall Lab, my undergraduate research in the About Me section, and my links to research tools.










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