The overall goal of my lab revolves around using functional genetic approaches to uncover the molecular networks that regulate mammalian cell identity. Through the use of defined, in vitro embryonic and somatic stem cell systems, we will find and characterize gene products affecting stem cell self-renewal, differentiation, proliferation, and survival. We routinely use three in vitro cell systems in lab: embryonic stem cells (ESCs), neural stem cells (NSCs), and fibroblasts. To investigate cellular phenotypes in these systems, we employ RNA interference (RNAi) as a gene discovery tool using genome-wide short hairpin RNA (shRNA) libraries. This technology allows us to broadly access gene function through genome-scale “shot gun” screens (using pools of 10,000 shRNAs) followed by shRNA DNA barcode array analysis to track individual shRNAs in outgrown or sorted populations of cells. Our studies will provide insight into basic stem cell biology, human diseases involving altered tissue homeostasis, and strategies for implementing cell replacement and targeted cancer therapies.