Research

 

We are a highly interdisciplinary lab, combining experimental and computational efforts to study how genomes function.  We are funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and NIH. Recently we established the Center for 3D Structure and Physics of the Genome, as part of the NIH 4D Nucleome Consortium, to study the spatial organization of the human genome.

To explore and study genome folding we first developed several genomics technologies such as 3C, 5C and Hi-C (Dekker, Science 2002, Dostie Genome Res. 2006, Lieberman Aiden, van Berkum, Science 2009).  These technologies employ deep sequencing to produce massive genome-wide chromatin interaction maps that we then analyze using a whole suite of computational and bioinformatic methods that we developed ourselves, and in collaboration with our close collaborators in the laboratory of Leonid Mirny (MIT).  (See Lajoie, Nature Methods 2009, Imakaev, Nature Methods 2012).

Our research has revealed new insights into the mechanisms of long-range gene regulation by distal enhancers (Sanyal, Nature 2012), the compartmentalization of chromatin in distinct functional domains (Nora, Nature 2012, Giorgetti, Nature 2016), the internal organization of the chromatin fiber (Dekker, JBC 2008), the structure of mitotic chromosomes (Naumova, Science 2013, Gibcus, Science 2018), and the overall organization of entire genomes inside the nucleus (Gibcus, Mol. Cell 2013).

Recently, NIH started the 4D Nucleome initiative. Our lab heads one of 6 centers in this network. In our center we employ state-of-the-art genomics, imaging, genome engineering, computational modeling and bioinformatic approaches to study the structure and biophysics of the human genome.

Our recent work reveals, on a minute-time resolution, how cells pack chromosomes into highly condensed structures prior to cell division. You can check out the following video for a summary,