Sankaran Laboratory

Human hematopoietic genetics

Our goal is to understand how genetic variation alters human blood cell production or hematopoiesis in health and disease.

The Sankaran Laboratory uses human genetics to study hematopoiesis and how this process goes awry in human disease. We are particularly interested in gaining molecular insights into how hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells are able to effectively produce mature blood cells. Related to this overarching goal are many specific questions: How does hematopoiesis get perturbed in disease, how are the hemoglobin genes — including fetal hemoglobin — regulated, how does hematopoiesis vary in humans, and why are some individuals predisposed to acquiring blood disorders? 

We are also interested in identifying opportunities to use the insights we gain from our studies to develop improved therapies for a variety of blood disorders, including sickle cell disease, thalassemia, Diamond-Blackfan anemia, aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, myeloproliferative disorders, leukemia and polycythemia. We integrate modern human genetic studies with functional studies, employing a variety of innovative genomic technologies and more traditional hematopoietic assays. We additionally develop genomic tools, including cellular barcoding approaches and single-cell technologies, to enable higher-resolution studies of human hematopoiesis in health and disease.

Stories from the Lab

Lamarcus, who has sickle cell disease, is examined by Dr. Vijay Sankaran.

Decoding sickle cell disease

A recent Sankaran Lab study, which reveals how the fetal to adult hemoglobin switch is regulated, may open new possibilities for sickle cell patients.
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Meredith, who was born with an MPN

Probing a blood cancer’s genetic origins

When Meredith's headaches turn out to be caused by a rare blood cancer, the Sankaran Lab sets out to untangle the complicated genetics of myeloproliferative neoplasms.

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Lindsay, pictured here with her fiancé Doug, receives monthly blood transfusions to help manage her DBA.

Fast tracking a novel gene therapy for DBA

The lack of a cure or a sustainable long-term solution for people with Diamond-Blackfan anemia, like Lindsay, is what inspired the Sankaran Lab to begin experimenting with potential treatments.
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