Research Summary

**The main focus of the lab is to understand how male-female differences in the regulation of growth and metabolism contribute to sex differences in body size, stress responses and lifespan**

Regulated growth is essential for attaining the correct cell, tissue and organismal size – too much or too little growth during development causes growth disorders. Even after development is complete, the regulation of growth is essential for tissue repair and replacement during the whole of an animal’s life. In this case, deregulated growth disrupts tissue homeostasis, leading to an increased risk of cancer, and/or shortened lifespan. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms that control cell, tissue and body growth is not only a fundamental question in biology, but has significant implications for health research.

An important determinant of growth in all animals is sex. Male-female differences in cell, tissue and body size are widespread in the animal kingdom. In addition, the incidence and progression of some forms of cancer show a strong sex bias. Yet how the regulation of growth differs between males and females to produce these differences in size and health outcomes remains unclear. In our lab, we use the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model to study the genetic, molecular and physiological mechanisms that control male-female differences in cell and body size.

Our studies have uncovered many parallels between the sex-specific regulation of growth in flies and in mammals. The focus of our research is to use the power of Drosophila genetics to identify pathways that are regulated by sex, and to investigate how this regulation affects growth. In doing so, we will identify new roles for many pathways in controlling sex differences in cell, tissue and body size. Since many of these pathways also play roles in stress responses and lifespan, studying how their regulation and function differs in males and females will provide insight into sex differences in stress survival and aging.

For more details and research projects, visit the lab website:

Technologies & Methods

Postdoc: University of Calgary (2009-2015); Supervisor: Dr. Savraj Grewal
University of Glasgow (2007-2008); Supervisor: Dr. Stephen Goodwin
PhD: University of Glasgow (2004-2007); Supervisor: Dr. Stephen Goodwin
M.Res.: Molecular Functions in Disease, University of Glasgow (2003-2004)
BSc (Hons): Forensic Science and Biology, University of Toronto at Mississauga (1999-2003)


Comprehensive List
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For another list of publications, visit the lab website: