Dr. Lau, Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology and Surgery at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, uses multidisciplinary approaches to gain a systems-level understanding of the gut. The Lau Lab seeks to understand how microenvironmental factors, including stromal/immune cells and microbiota, affect epithelial cell behaviors in the context of an inflammatory environment in the gut. Epithelial cells can differentiate, exhibit plasticity (reversion to stemness – dedifferentiation or transition to non-native states – metaplasia), undergo cell death, and alter their turnover when exposed to different environmental cues. Changes to these behaviors in diseases lead to aberrant tissue structure and function. The laboratory utilizes high content, single-cell and spatial experimental techniques in conjunction with computational tools to interrogate organoids, mouse models, and human specimens. The Lau Lab vertically integrates technological development, algorithm development, and derivation of biological insights from large datasets in order to make translatable advances to inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.