We study multiple areas of cellular biology, but all are focused on understanding how cells respond to, and influence, their environment.
Our research is often inter-disciplinary and uses expertise and resources from Immunology, Bioinformatics, Cell Biology, Cellular Development, Signal Transduction, Neurobiology and Cancer.
We are excited by new collaborations that can answer questions that one investigator or lab can't tackle.
Much of the research in the lab is centered around a cell surface molecule called CD24. This small protein is anchored to the membrane of many different types of cells, including immune cells (B and T lymphocytes, dendritic cells), pre-adipocytes, neurons, and cancer cells, among others. CD24 has many different, often opposing functions in regulating cell survival and cell death. It is expressed in many different species from birds, to reptiles, to humans.
We have found a new function for CD24 in regulating the development of immature fat cells in becoming mature lipid-laden cells. As well, we have found a new function for CD24 in the immune system where it causes B cells to release microvesicles; a recently recognized novel system for communication between cells.
We are also interested in understanding the fundamental mechanisms that promote cancer formation and progression. We have found that a protein called Ras, which is known to cause cancer when mutated, also downregulates CD24 expression. We don't know yet what long-term consequence this may have or if this could be taken advantage of for treating cancer.
More recently, we have begun trying to understand the interactions between different types of cells and how these interactions can promote cancer development or development of normal cells.
The research in the lab is, or has been, funded by NSERC, CIHR, RDC, BHCRI, and internal awards from MUN.
The "big question" in the Christian lab
A 5 min video explaining to a 1st year Biology class our research.