The Claud laboratory is focused on understanding the role of microbes in development of the preterm infant. Her laboratory utilizes state-of-the-art experimental approaches including cultivation-independent molecular analyses of microbial community structure and function as well as in vitro and in vivo modeling of intestinal and brain development. She is using both 16S rRNA-derived data and shotgun metagenomic analyses to demonstrate differences in microbial community taxonomy, function, and temporal development in preterm infants. She has also developed a model of host/microbe interaction in which fecal microbiome samples from preterm infants are transfaunated to pregnant germ free dams resulting in pups with a growth phenotype that matches that of the human infant source of the microbiome community. She is the PI of the MIND (Microbiome in Neonatal Development) cohort which has established a biorepository of microbiome samples with corresponding clinical, social, and environment data of preterm infants from birth to school age.
Dr. Sander's research program addresses the diverse cellular and molecular mechanisms that embryologic cell populations employ in during development, in stem cells and regerating tissues. Congenital malformations and birth defects remain a significant cause of lifelong morbidity and pose innumerable challenges for children and society. Despite our numerous insights into early embryonic and fetal life, a more thorough understanding is essential in the diagnosis and eventual treatment of complex congenital disorders. The experimental paradigms of his work employ classical embryological approaches combined with sophisticated genetic manipulations to interrogate cell signaling and patterning in real time and at high resolution with technically advanced imaging techniques. His work has described a novel cellular organelle termed specialized filopodia or cytonemes present in diverse developmental contexts including the embryoniclimb as well as nervous system. These specialized filopodia are implicated in important developmental process in many aspects of stem cell biology and regeneration.