Professor, Biological Sciences
University of Notre Dame
Email: Robert Schulz
Office: 147 Galvin Life Sciences Building
Robert Schulz’s laboratory is investigating blood cell formation, a key to understanding the uncontrolled proliferation of blood cells known as the cancer leukemia. Distinct types of leukemia are classified based on the maturity of cells affected, lineage type and differentiation stage of abnormal cells, and rate of aberrant cell growth. The specific cellular, genetic, and molecular events underlying the initiation and progression of various leukemias have not been fully elucidated.
As hematopoiesis is an evolutionarily conserved developmental process, the genetic control of blood cell production is being investigated in an expedient and relevant manner using the Drosophila model organism. A hematopoietic stem cell niche has been discovered in the fruit fly, with its cellular organization and molecular signaling therein shown to be remarkably similar to that observed in the hematopoietic stem cell niches of mammals. The Schulz lab has initiated a systematic screen of the Drosophila genome to discover genes that are essential for hematopoietic stem cell maintenance. They are also determining the mechanisms through which these genes function in stem or support cells. Research findings obtained from these innovative studies will provide a wealth of information on the genetic and molecular mechanisms at work within a hematopoietic stem cell-niche microenvironment. Such knowledge will be beneficial to the study and understanding of abnormal hematopoiesis, including leukemia, in humans.