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We are looking to recruit new grad students and postdocs to the lab to work on cutting edge research projects in human embryonic stem cells, breast cancer biology, and epithelial homeostasis.

The Macara laboratory is a diverse group of scientists, with past and present students and postdocs from France, Russia, the UK, Ecuador, Bangladesh and Canada, as well as the US.  We strongly support racial, gender, and geographic diversity and inclusivity.

We are excited by fundamental questions about epithelial behavior in development, in homeostasis, and during cancer initiation.  Embryonic stem cells are epithelial, and undergo an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) when they begin to differentiate into certain lineages.  Loic Fort, a postdoc in the lab has recently discovered two remarkable events that occur during human iPSCs or ESCs differentiation along the mesoderm/cardiomyocyte lineage.  First, there is a rapid wave of apoptosis, followed at 49 hours post-induction of differentation by an abrupt EMT.  Astonishingly, the apoptosis is essential for the stem cells to respond to the WNT signal that switches on differentiation.  This work was recently published in Nature Cell Biology.  Most human cancers arise from epithelial tissues.  We use the mouse mammary gland and skin, and human organoids, as model systems (Dev Cell 2020). Transgenic mice provide powerful tools to probe stem cell function, breast cancer initiation mechanisms, and responses to injury. We also use cell culture to determine how epithelial cells interact with one another and with tumor cells.  We have developed genome-wide CRISPR screens to identify novel genes involved in epithelial homeostasis (eLife 2020) and cell competition.  We also endogenously tag proteins involved in epithelial cell polarity and polarized vesicle transport, using CRISPR gene-editing, so as to track these proteins with single molecule sensitivity.  We employ multi-channel TIRFM and near-TIRF microscopy, which provides unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution of protein complex dynamics (Nature Commun 2018).