The Polo group is interested in the transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms that govern cell identity and cell fate. It has a particular focus on pluripotency and the reprogramming of somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and other mature cell types.
Being able to reprogram any specific mature cell into a pluripotent state and then back into any other particular cell gives the group a unique tool to study the molecular and cellular events that permit the conversion of one cell type to another.
Moreover, iPS cells and the reprogramming technology are of great interest in pharmaceutical and clinical settings, since the technology can be used to generate animal and cellular models for the study of various diseases as well as provide (in the future) specific patient tailor made cells for their use in cellular replacement therapies.
The Polo group are dissecting the nature and dynamics of the process using a broad array of approaches through the use of mouse models and a combination of different molecular, biochemical, cellular techniques and genome-wide studies.