A major challenge in biology is to determine the genetic and molecular mechanisms responsible for phenotypic differences between species, particularly mechanisms that underlie the origin of new anatomical structures (‘evolutionary novelties’) and biological functions (‘evolutionary innovations’). The goal of our research program is to develop a complete mechanistic and historical explanation for how morphological characters evolve, focusing on the mechanisms of gene regulatory evolution. To answer these questions we integrate functional genomics and experimental methods to deduce the molecular mechanisms of developmental evolution, with particular focus on

  • The evolution of mammalian pregnancy
  • The genetic and molecular changes that underlie human-specific traits
  • The molecular genetics of female reproduction
  • How large and long-lived mammals resolved Peto's paradox
  • The origin of novel cell types
  • The molecular mechanisms of protein function evolution