Kevin T. Vaughan
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences
Office: 057 Galvin Life Sciences Center
Prof. Vaughan’s cell biology laboratory focuses on mitosis, the division of a cell into two genetically-identical daughter cells. For stem cells, the decision whether they will remain a stem cell or change into a more differentiated cell type occurs during mitosis. One daughter cell might remain a stem cell in order to generate more stem cells in the future while the other could become the specific cell required to repair injury or replace cells in the tissue.
This decision by the replicating stem cells has been linked to conditions from Niemann-Pick Type C disease, where the brain might not have sufficient stem cells to replace neurons, to tumor development in cancer that could result from abnormal activation of stem cells. In colon cancer, for example, an inherited gene mutation can trigger the development of uncontrolled cell division that creates tumors.
Vaughan’s laboratory works with existing stem cell lines and collaborates with Prof. David Hyde’s laboratory to investigate stem cells in the brains of zebrafish. The research, which is in its early stages, could reveal the mechanisms that control the cell’s choice between stem cell and differentiated cell, potentially leading to therapeutic treatments and cures.
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