Gene Essentiality Lab
Traver Hart, Ph.D.
A systems lab at the interface
of computational and experimental biology
Focusing on genetic screens in mammalian cell lines, we seek to decipher the complex web of relationships that governs how eukaryotic cells process information, respond to their environments, and transform into cancer. As part of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, we also search for emergent vulnerabilities of tumor cells, and we collaborate extensively with preclinical and clinical researchers to translate these findings into new therapeutic opportunities
Cells from different tissues have different genetic dependencies, but all share a common set of "core fitness genes" that are required for proliferation. We use this difference between core and context essentials to guide our estimates of screen quality and gene classification, and to identify tumor-specific pathways and targets
Genes with correlated knockout fitness profiles across a diverse set of screens usually operate in the same biological process or biochemical pathway.
Integrating genes (nodes) with correlated knockout fitness profiles (edges) into a network -- see this webpage's background for an example -- reveals clusters of functionally related genes and the cell lines where they are essential.
We use approaches like these to ask fundamental biological questions about the hierarchical organization of the cell, and to guide the development of new technologies to address the blind spots in our data.
Traver Hart - Assistant Professor
Megan McLaughlin - Lab Research Manager
Eiru Kim - Postdoctoral fellow
Lori Bertolet - Research Associate
Sanjana Srinivasan - Graduate Student
Medina Colic - Graduate Student
Walter (Frank) Lenoir - Graduate Student
Andy Wang - Postdoctoral Fellow (emeritus)
Merve Dede - Graduate Student
Danny Verduzco - Research Scientist
Cem Dede - Research Associate (emeritus)