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Diane Slusarski, BA, BS, BA, PhD

Contact Information

Office: 246A BB 
Phone: 319-335-229 
Faculty Profile

Brief description of current research:

Understanding basic developmental processes can provide critical insights for understanding the pathophysiology of human diseases.  The Slusarski lab utilizes the zebrafish animal model to functionally characterize the mechanisms by which individual genes and interacting biochemical pathways are coordinated for proper development and organ function.  The zebrafish are transparent with readily visible organs, blood circulation and brain structures.  Human ciliopathies such as Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) are characterized by several phenotypes including obesity, retinal degeneration, polydactyly, hypertension and cardiovascular defects.  There is considerable interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in ciliopathies as phenotypes associated with this disorder are commonly found within the general population. By coupling in vivo physiological imaging with manipulation of gene function, our lab established the zebrafish as a model for Bardet-Biedl Syndrome defining the cardinal features of gene knockdown affecting ciliated tissues, visual function and retrograde transport.  Moreover, our genetic interaction studies using knockdown and RNA rescue are a powerful approach to understanding the role of newly discovered disease-associated genes in both development and disease progression.