Our lab investigates how genomically encoded and self-organizing processes control development. The main themes of current research are 1) dynamics of signaling networks, 2) small cell clusters, and 3) quantitative biology of developmental abnormalities.

Protein kinases control essentially all cellular functions and are genetically deregulated in human diseases. The Shvartsman lab uses Drosophila as a powerful experimental system for dissecting signaling through the highly conserved ERK cascade. Recent results include new tools for optogenetic control of the ERK-dependent dynamics of single genes and gene networks.

Cell clusters with stable cytoplasmic bridges are thought to have provided one path to the emergence of multicellularity and are essential for the formation of eggs and sperm in present day animals. The Shvartsman lab uses live imaging experiments and dynamical systems theory to investigate the formation and function of germline cell clusters in Drosophila.

Developmental defects are one of the leading causes of childhood mortality and a major factor in the lives of affected individuals and their families. Focusing on abnormalities caused by deregulated RAS signaling, the Shvartsman lab is advancing quantitative biology of developmental disorders, using genome editing and computational modeling approaches in Drosophila.

Our lab collaborates with scientists at Princeton and elsewhere, and has in the past published on a broad range of topics, including epithelial morphogenesis, morphogen gradients, and metabolic control of development.