MGH Research Scholars Program
The MGH Research Scholars Program was established to support early career researchers with innovative yet unproven ideas that have the potential to transform the future of medicine. Funded 100% through philanthropy, this program gives researchers the freedom and flexibility they need to follow the science wherever it leads. History has shown that brilliant scientists who are given free rein to explore new frontiers make the greatest, often unexpected, advances.
Eric Liao, MD, PhD, is researching the genetic underpinnings of craniofacial development to identify new strategies to treat and prevent craniofacial malformations.
Genetic Analysis of Craniofacial Development and Malformation
We are leveraging advances in genomics, gene editing, developmental biology and chemical biology to translate fundamental biological insights into clinical practice.
1. Functional genomics: we employ animal models to rapidly examine the function of novel human candidate genes and gene variants in craniofacial development.
2. IRF6 downstream pathways and function in development: we identified key target genes of transcription factor IRF6 and carry out mechanistic developmental and genetic studies to elucidate their function and clinical contributions to orofacial clefts
3. Craniofacial morphogenesis: we examine the interaction of genes in the Wnt pathway to decipher how they regulate palate and mandibular morphogenesis
4. Role of cranial neural crest in ZIKA neurocranial dysgenesis: given the intimate reciprocal molecular and developmental interactions between the cranial neural crest and the developing brain, we have developed a zebrafish ZIKV model to elucidate the mechanistic basis of ZIKA infection in an in vivo developmental context.
5. Craniofacial regeneration consortium: we are leading a group of tissue engineers, stem cell biologists and transplant surgeons to harness regenerative approaches toward treatment of craniofacial deformities. We assembled world experts in iPS biology, tissue scaffold engineering and facial transplantation to innovate solutions to treat devastating craniofacial injuries and anomalies