MBBS, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, 2000
PhD, Indian Institute of Science, 2006
Mechanisms regulating tissue architecture in development and degeneration
e-mail : renjith.mathew [at] niser [dot] ac [dot] in
Phone - 0674-2494215
Biology is rife with compartmentalisations - topics, classes, segments, stages, groups; so on and so forth. These are mostly artificial boundaries set for human convenience. Studying development has classically involved studying the development of an organism from when it is a single celled zygote to when the structures necessary for its survival as a full organism have developed, or the development of tissues or organs from precursor cells, for example. Biological phenomena however operate in reality as a continuum of interlinked complex processes that start at the beginning and end at the end. What if developmental biology is taken beyond this somewhat abstract border? That is what we plan to do in our lab. The processes that drive the developmental programmes do not stop when we consider development to be complete. They continue to operate to maintain the structure and function of different organs and tissues post-establishment, till the death of the organism. For this homoeostatic function they constantly resist degenerative influences, a fight they gradually lose as the organism ages, resulting in degeneration of organ and tissue architectures.
Thus by continuing the study of development beyond "development" we hope to reveal how tissues and organ structures degenerate with age. This will help to understand the mechanistic basis for functional loss with age. We conduct these experiments using Drosophila melanogaster, a favourite tool of developmental biologists, as our model organism. Our research currently investigates the Drosophila respiratory system, and will progressively include more tissue and organ types. We combine classical methods of developmental biology with modern tools. This involves visualising organ structure at cell and tissue levels using advanced staining and microscopy techniques. After establishing the tissue architecture of young adult organs, we will analyse the changes occurring to these structures with age. Once the senile phenotype of organ structure is determined, we will employ genetic and biochemical tools to reveal the metabolic and genetic pathways that regulate or influence the senile degeneration.
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