This project aims to understand how adult stem cells that are present in most of our tissues, are regulated to maintain tissue function and regenerate them after injury. The project focuses on skin epidermis and hair follicle stem cells, which due to the ability of the skin to constantly self-renew and to regenerate, provides a powerful, clinically relevant model system. The project uses a range of methods from mouse genetics to stem cell organoids, live imaging and next generation sequencing to understand how skin stem cell fate is regulated on the single cell level, and in particular how these single cell fates are coordinated on the population level to ensure appropriate responses of the stem cell pool to the changing need of the tissue.
The main aims of the project are to:
1. Understand how the local tissue microenvironment, in particular its geometrical shapes and mechanical properties, control stem cell behavior
2. Identify the transcriptional networks and epigenetic barriers that control stem cell fate and plasticity
3. Identify drugs that could be used to boost stem cell function as means to enhance tissue repair or prevent age-dependent loss of regenerative potential