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Our lab investigates fundamental questions about the origins and impact of cellular heterogeneity in cellular decision making, tissue development and homeostasis. Populations of seemingly identical cells can exhibit a bewildering array of phenotypic and genetic differences. These differences challenge traditional classifications of cell types and raise profound questions about how living systems can give rise to reliable behaviors. Do robust, behaviors of living systems arise because of—or despite—cellular heterogeneity?
Our lab is developing a comprehensive program to study cellular heterogeneity at different spatial and temporal scales, in development and homeostasis, and in normal and diseased tissues. Current work is focused on understanding how heterogeneous populations of cells make reliable decisions in immune response, brain wiring and cell differentiation. Understanding the role of heterogeneity will ultimately have profound implications to all fields of biology, including understanding emergent behaviors of living systems, developing improved approaches for tissue engineering and cancer treatment.