Department of Animal Science
My laboratory research focuses on avian telomere biology, with chicken being the primary organism under study. Our studies concentrate on the organization, inheritance, regulation and stability of telomere array organization in normal, immortalized and transformed cell systems, both in vitro and in vivo. Telomere stability is one of the most significant genetic mechanisms controlling overall genome stability and influencing cellular proliferation, senescence and transformation. Current projects include analysis of the regulation and function of the telomere-telomerase pathway during oncogenesis induced by Marek’s disease virus (MDV), a DNA herpes virus which induces T-cell lymphomas and results in a high level of mortality. This particular disease is a problem of enormous significance for the poultry industry. MDV infection and disease in chickens also serves as a model system for human herpes virus infection and disease conditions (e.g., Burkitt’s lymphoma caused by Epstein Barr virus). Students studying in the lab (M.S. and Ph.D.) are trained in the disciplines of genetics, cytogenetics, and genomics with an emphasis on avian systems as well as comparative vertebrate biology. Research and technology levels range from molecular and cellular to the organismal. Other interests and areas of research include gene mapping and chromosome organization, congenital and inherited developmental mutations, and conservation of poultry and avian genetic resources.