The Dr. James Broach lab has studied a variety of biological processes using the yeast Saccharomyces as a model system. These studies have focused primarily on the interaction of cells with their environment, exploring the nature of signaling pathways that cells use to perceive their nutritional state - such as the Ras/protein kinase A pathway and the Target of Rapamycin Complex – and the transcriptional and metabolic responses of those cells to changes in nutritional state. More recently, the lab has focused on the cell’s stress response, using single cell imaging and genome sequencing-based studies of chromatin structure and transcriptional remodeling. These studies yielded the remarkable finding that genetically identical cells in the same environment mount quite different responses to an applied stress, allowing the population as a whole to hedge its bets regarding the best survival strategy in the face of an uncertain future.
More recently, the lab has expanded its interest to the application of genomic tools to issues of disease onset and treatment. The work is conducted through the Institute for Personalized Medicine, comprising a biorepository, in which biological samples from all consented patients of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are stored; a genomics core, in which state of the art genotyping and NextGen sequencing is applied to the biological samples; and a bioinformatics core, in which patient outcome data obtained from electronic medical records are correlated with genomic profiling and sequencing results. The lab works closely with clinicians at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to identify patients whose disorder or response to treatment shows a familial pattern of inheritance, as well as cohorts of patients that have phenotypically distinct disease presentations or responses to treatment. The lab has successfully pursued studies in a variety of diseases, including various cancers, ALS, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, epilepsy and osteoporosis.
- Saccharomyces cerevisiae