Our research combines mouse genetics, bioinformatics and genomic methods to explore cis- and trans-acting components of mammalian gene regulatory machinery. We are particularly interested in those components of the regulatory machinery that have changed over evolutionary time. Working against a background of deep conservation, these changing components hold potential to explain biological differences between species and also between different individuals in the same populations.
Our primary interest is understanding how perturbations of gene regulatory mechanisms, either through genetic mutation or epigenetic modifications, can lead to developmental diversity, disorders and disease. More recently we have become deeply engaged in studies to determine the role of gene regulatory mechanisms in modulating behavior, particularly social behavior and social learning. We use cross-species comparisons to define the molecular basis of deeply conserved behaviors, but we are also intrigued by the novel inventions that define species-specific modes of behavioral response. The goal of our work is to efficiently leverage the extensive body of knowledge and unique experimental tools that are offered by diverse model species for a deeper understanding of the molecular basis of normal and aberrant human development and behavioral response.