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The Latest:

WNT9A Is a Conserved Regulator of Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cell Development
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Congratulations to Jenna Richter on defending her PhD thesis! (December 2017)

The WNT target SP5 negatively regulates WNT transcriptional programs in human pluripotent stem cells
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Congratulations to Nikki Nguyen on defending her Master’s thesis! (August 2017)

Congratulations to Myan Do on receiving a NIH-funded Cancer Biology Informatics and Omics (CBIO) Training Grant!

Congratulations to Stephanie Grainger on receiving a K99 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health!

Learn more about the role of Wnt signaling in vertebrate neural development and hematopoietic stem cell development.

Congratulations to Jordan Setayesh on winning first prize at the 2017 UCSD Undergraduate Research Showcase for his poster in the Systems Biology and Signal Transduction category!

Validate guide RNAs in vitro to increase CRISPR efficiency
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Wnt9a is necessary for amplification of hematopoietic stem cells in the aorta
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The Willert lab has moved to the 2nd floor of SCRM (Rooms 2105 and 2106)


At the heart of our research projects are Wnt proteins and their signaling pathways. Wnt genes encode a family of secreted lipid-modified growth factors (there are 19 Wnt genes in the mammalian genome) that regulate embryonic development and tissue homeostasis. Deregulated Wnt signaling impacts a large number of human diseases, including neurodegeneration and cancer.

In the Willert lab, we incorporate biochemical, genetic and cell biological approaches to study these proteins and their signaling cascades. As a model system to study to role of Wnt signaling, we primarily use human pluripotent stem cells (including both embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells). These stem cells can be instructed, in part through the addition of purified Wnt proteins, to differentiate into a variety of mature cells. More recently, we started a collaboration with Dr. Traver to study the role of Wnt signaling in the development of blood stem cells in zebrafish.

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