Valentina Greco PhD
Assistant Professor of Genetics and of Dermatology
Organ regeneration in vertebrate systems; Stem cells; Stem cell niche organization; cancer
Stem cells and the microenvironment in which they reside - the so called niche - are central for the development and regeneration of all our organs, and their deregulation leads to a disease state. Despite the key relevance of stem cell niches and their conserved features, the dynamic interactions between stem cells and the niche are still not well understood.
The aim of my lab is to understand how stem cells and the niche contribute to tissue regeneration and what goes awry during disease states such as cancer using the murine skin hair follicle as a model system. The major challenge in studying these questions is the lack of accessibility to stem cell niches and consequently the inability to visualize the same stem cells over time to determine their specific behavior and long-term fate.
My laboratory has recently established the ability to study cellular mechanisms, in real-time, within an intact stem cell niche during physiological hair follicle regeneration in live mice. My lab integrates cell biology, genetics, genomics and two-photon imaging of live mice to understand 1) the functional role that stem cell niche components exert during hair follicle regeneration, 2) the signaling mechanisms that control hair follicle stem cell behaviors and 3) how basic mechanisms of hair follicle regeneration are hijacked during disease such as skin cancer.