Navroop Dhaliwal is a research fellow in Yun Li’s lab at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto. She has a doctorate in cell and systems biology from the University of Toronto. Her Ph.D. research investigated the molecular mechanism underlying mammalian naïve pluripotency. Her postdoctoral research focuses on modeling and investigating the mechanism of PTEN related neurodevelopmental disorders in hPSCs derived 2D and 3D neural cultures. She uses CRISPR based methodologies to engineer hPSCs and differentiate them into neurons to study the underlying mechanisms. Her research aims to find potential novel therapeutic targets for autism.
Principal Investigator: Yun Li
Fellow: Guoria Sun
Undergraduate Fellow Project: Investigating the mechanism of PTEN mutation-related autism in human pluripotent stem cells-derived 2D and 3D neural cultures
Mutations in the PTEN (Phosphatase and tensin homolog) gene are strongly associated with autism, macrocephaly and epilepsy. Currently, treatment options for these patients are extremely limited. In our lab, we use human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCS) based 2D and 3D culture systems to model and study the mechanism of PTEN-related neurodevelopmental disorders. We have generated PTEN mutant neurons and brain organoids that display cellular and structural over-growth, as well as increased electric activity. We are further investigating the molecular mechanism that may contribute to these PTEN mutant phenotypes. In particular, we are exploring whether mTORC1 or mTORC2 pathway activation is responsible for the PTEN phenotype. By understanding the underlying mechanisms, we aim to identify novel therapeutic targets for autism.