A major challenge in systems biology is how to extract meaningful biological insights from large heterogeneous data sets that probe different aspects of gene function. Our laboratory uses high-throughput functional genomics and computational approaches to study the cell biology, post-translational regulation, and evolution of molecular mechanisms during early embryonic development in the simple animal model C. elegans and related nematodes. For example, since most diseases are multigenic in origin, we are generating genome-wide genetic interaction maps for genes with essential roles in the early embryo that will help us understand how these interactions affect embryogenesis. By integrating diverse functional genomics data, we seek to gain a better understanding of how different groups of genes work together to coordinate cellular and developmental processes.
Dr. Gunsalus is one of the founding members of a sister center to the CGSB at NYU Abu Dhabi. In our Abu Dhabi laboratory, we are developing similar and complementary approaches for high-throughput and high-content chemical genomics using whole animal and cell-based assays. The aims of this work are to identify novel bioactive molecules, to study their mechanisms of action, and to characterize ways in which resistance to drugs may arise. Applications include potential biomarkers and chemotherapeutics for diseases such as cancer and the development of novel anthelmintics for use to treat parasitic nematode infections, which afflict nearly 2 billion people worldwide and cause widespread damage to domestic animals and crop plants. As part of this work, we are sampling diverse ecological niches and assaying the biological activity of natural products from microorganisms, which use a vast array of metabolites as chemical communication.
Dr. Gunsalus also serves as Director of Bioinformatics at NYU Abu Dhabi, where our team of bioinformaticians and software developers provide deep sequencing analysis and training for researchers across the campus. In partnership with the CGSB’s GenCore team in New York, we are developing a variety of data analysis pipelines and software tools to support all major applications of next-gen sequencing for use by researchers in both locations.