Our laboratory is interested in the link between the genes that control normal developmental processes and childhood cancers. We are also interested in the effects of treatments we use for cancer therapy, such as radiation and chemotherapy on the developing brain. More specifically, we study transcription factors called homeobox genes. Transcription factors are molecular 'switches' that turn on or off target genes that work in networks or pathways with other genes and proteins to help determine important processes such as cell fate (the type of cell that derives from a common progenitor), differentiation, cell proliferation and cell growth. Some of the ways we can study gene function are to make mouse models where a specific gene is missing (called a knockout mouse) or the gene is expressed in a cell or tissue where it isn't normally expressed. By combining these genetic, biochemical and mouse model studies, we can make inferences regarding childhood diseases and cancers.