Living tissue maintains a balance of heterogeneous cell types, and subversion of this spatiotemporal regulation leads to diseases such as cancer. The multidisciplinary members in Dr. Xiling Shen’s lab are developing and integrating state-of-the-art engineering, computational, and biological techniques to study and manipulate tissue heterogeneity for therapeutic applications. Our goal is to observe these processes at unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution, understand their underlying control principles, and manipulate them with great precision.
Currently our research focuses on the gastrointestinal tract, including colorectal cancer, intestinal epithelium, and the enteric nervous system. We are also extending our techniques and approaches to take on the lung. We have published novel studies on various mechanisms including non-coding RNA, asymmetric cell division, the stem cell niche, metastasis, metabolic reprogramming, and inflammation. Our ongoing projects also include gut microbiota, gut-brain axis, epigenetic reprogramming, neuromodulation, and synthetic biology.
Our lab has been developing novel technology that enables the research community to ask new questions. We have demonstrated a chemokine-targeting technique to graft human cells into immunocompetent animal hosts without immune rejection. An integrated tracking device has also be designed for simultaneous optical and electrical recording of the enteric nervous system in live animal. Techniques like multiscale modeling, organoids, CRISPR/CAS9 genomic editing, and various sequencing/metabolomics analyses are routinely used by lab members.
Besides basic science, the lab is currently pursuing translational research and developing novel therapeutics against colorectal cancer, functional GI disorders, and tuberculosis.