Research Statement

I have 20 years of experience studying mobile genetic elements. My laboratory employs an integrative approach to study transposons and endogenous viruses primarily in vertebrates, including humans. The overarching goal is to characterize the impact of these elements on the evolution and physiology of their host species – including disease states. We use an integrative approach combining functional and computational genomics, biochemistry, and genetics in model systems (zebrafish, cell culture) to investigate how mobile element sequences have fueled the emergence of biological novelty during evolution. These encompass both protein-coding and noncoding regulatory sequences repurposed to facilitate the remodeling of processes as fundamental as innate immunity and development. We also have a long-standing interest in deciphering the forces and mechanisms underlying the propagation of mobile elements within and between species, and the long-term consequences of these activities in shaping genome architecture and complexity.