Michael J Gilchrist
PositionResearch Scientist (retired)
Mike Gilchrist's research focussed on gene regulatory networks in early development. The Gilchrist lab was mix of experimental and computational scientists. They were interested in the early stages of vertebrate development, and studied this at a systems level, using a combination of experimental data and computational techniques in both Xenopus and mouse models. their latest work was in Xenopus, an ideal model system, as many hundreds of developmentally synchronized embryos can be generated from a single clutch. In addition, the early embryonic axes can be readily identified shortly after fertilization, facilitating the study of axial asymmetry and growth. Embryonic development is a complex and tightly controlled process, with a remarkably precise outcome. The underlying control system is only partly understood. Typically, transcription factors regulate the expression of individual genes, and the many relationships between transcription factors and their target genes combine to make gene regulatory networks. Their aim was to elucidate these networks using molecular and computational tools to enable a systematic and large-scale approach, with the goalof understanding development as a series of genetic interactions which need to proceed with the correct timing and in the right location within the growing embryo.