Current Students—Darin Dolezal
PhD (3rd year)
Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Advisor: Francesca Pignoni, PhD
I'm interested in understanding the processes that are needed to regulate stem cells throughout life. Adult stem cells, such as hematopoietic stem cells or germline stem cells, have the remarkable ability to continually self-renew and replenish differentiated cells that need to be replaced. Normal tissue homeostasis requires precise control over stem cell division and differentiation, and unregulated stem cell growth is a pathologic feature of cancers and disease. Regulation of stem cells is achieved by both extrinsic signals and intrinsic factors that instruct the cell either to self-renew/divide or to differentiate into mature cells. Investigations into stem cell regulation have demonstrated that stem cells reside within sophisticated microenvironments, called niches, where neighboring cells provide the signaling milieu needed for regulating self-renewal and differentiation. The molecular mechanisms needed to maintain stem cells within these niches, however, are still unclear. I'm applying biochemical, genetic and cell biology approaches to understand the molecular components involved stem cell maintenance and niche function.
Dr. Arthur Kornberg (a Nobel prize winner in medicine in 1959) once said, "basic research is the lifeline of medicine." And if I could extend his comment, I would add, "and publication is the lifeline of medical research." I think publishing one's work serves two important roles. The first is to communicate your work to the larger scientific community, and the second is to serve as a landmark for the completion of one aspect of your work, thus providing direction for the future scientific work. As a future physician scientist here at Upstate, I have numerous opportunities to get involved in activities and trainings to improve our skills needed for publications.