Michael Galko, Ph.D.
Areas of Research
- Genetics Research
The Galko Laboratory is interested in how organisms respond to tissue damage. Multicellular organisms have evolved a variety of cellular and behavioral responses to cope with tissue damage and facilitate tissue repair. For instance, wound closure is aimed at restoring structure and function to the damaged tissue(s). By contrast, nociceptive (pain) sensitization is aimed at fostering behaviors that protect the organism from further injury.
Our laboratory is interested in identifying the elusive signals that initiate and terminate different aspects of the organismal tissue repair response, as well as the genes that are required to execute each specific response. For instance:
- How does the animal know that it is injured?
- How is this knowledge translated into cell-type specific responses such as cell migration (skin cell) or a lowered threshold for firing (peripheral sensory neuron)?
Ultimately, we wish to understand in molecular detail how the activities of diverse damage-responsive cell types are coordinated in space and time to give a functional tissue repair program. To pursue these interests we have developed a variety of tissue repair/response assays in the highly genetically tractable model organism, Drosophila melanogaster and are focusing our efforts on two critical responses: epidermal wound closure and nociceptive sensitization which is the lowering of the threshold for sensing painful stimuli following injury.
Given that tissue repair responses are an ancient survival mechanism of multicellular animals, we expect that the functional importance of many of the genes we identify will be conserved between flies and vertebrates.