Bruce Hay, PhD
Professor at California Institute of Technology
Dr. Hay’s lab is investigating various areas in developmental and evolutionary biology, including the following:
Cell death, neurodegenerative disease, and mitochondrial quality control: One of their goals is to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms that regulate cell death, neurodegeneration, and cancer. Much of their work on neurodegeneration, particularly as it relates to defects in mitochondrial function, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease occur in collaboration with the lab of Ming Guo, MD, Ph.D., a practicing Neurologist and researcher at UCLA. They have developed a model of mtDNA mutation accumulation in muscle and are using this system to identify molecules that can promote the selective removal of mutant mtDNA, a form of quality control.
Controlling the composition and fate of wild populations: A second goal addresses three questions in applied evolutionary population biology.
- 1) Can we bring about reproductive isolation (speciation) between populations of plants or animals that otherwise freely interbreed? Answers to this question have application to the growing number of situations in which plants and animals are engineered to show specific pharmaceutical or agricultural traits.
- 2) Can we engineer the genetics of populations so that they drive themselves to local extinction? For example, invasive non-native plants and animals cause substantial economic losses and sometimes function as vectors of disease.
- 3) Can we drive genes into wild populations (population replacement) such that all individuals express a trait of interest? An example would be transgenic mosquitoes that lack the ability to transmit pathogens like malaria.
Lifetime, single-shot contraception: In a third project they are working to develop single-shot, lifetime (but reversible)contraceptives for a variety of mammalian species. In brief, there remains a need for very long-term or permanent, non-surgical methods of male and female contraception for humans that can be implemented in resource-poor settings in which access to health care may be sporadic. There is also a desire for non-lethal, humane, methods of population control for captive and free-roaming animals. They have developed a technology, vectored contraception (VC), which can contribute to these goals.