Xiao Li, PhD
I focus on gene regulation during embryonic development to understand the complex nature of craniofacial organogenesis. I study mutations of Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome (ARS) patients in transcription factor gene that cause dental defects and craniofacial dysmorphism. By combining dry-lab exploration with wet-lab validation, I also work on the discovery of novel protein-chromatin interactions, microRNA target recognition and disease associated SNPs.
Myriam Moreno, RA
Research on major candidate genes and microRNA’s responsible for DiGeorge syndrome, a common congenital disease whose phenotypes include pharyngeal arch defects and craniofacial malformations such as dental defects and cleft palate. The latter is also being studied through tissue culture analysis. (B.S. in Biotechnology Engineering)
Thad Sharp, RA
In the Amendt lab we are identifying the causes of and developing preventive strategies for Craniosynostis- a condition in which the sutures (soft spots) in the skull of an infant close too early, causing problems with normal brain and skull growth. We are using microRNAs to close sutures early or to keep the sutures open to prevent pressure inside of the head to increase and the skull or facial bones to change from a normal. Another aim is to reprogram mesenchymal cells to epithelia cells using microRNA to control the molecular pathway, which could lead to novel therapeutics many areas. Also, we are interesting in molecular pathways of knockout mice. The knockout of certain genes in mice lets us know which genes are important for the cranial facial region of interest.
Christina Curtis, Undergraduate Student
The undergraduates in the Amendt lab provide a very critical role for the lab, as well as get a well-rounded exposure to the techniques and the research that is conducted within the lab. On top of the very critical support role, our undergraduate students do plasmid mini and large scale preps, genotyping, cloning, PCR and help with Western Blots. The students who leave the Amendt lab are well prepared for careers in science and Medicine because of the excellent education they were given at the University of Iowa AND because they had exposure to cutting edge research..