Research at the Merrill Lab

Each of the trillions of cells in your body is derived from a single stem cell, the fertilized egg. By dynamically responding to their cellular surroundings, the progeny of this stem cell follow the blueprint encoded by the genome to construct the basic structure of the body, to form tissues and organs, and to maintain physiological systems throughout your lifetime.
We are broadly interested in figuring out what drives cell fate decisions, and how these decisions are important for embryogenesis and stem cell maintenance in vivo. We have centered our efforts on the roles of a family of DNA-binding transcriptional regulators called Tcf/Lef factors. Tcf/Lef proteins can either activate or repress transcription of target genes depending upon the cohort of physically interacting proteins available to interact with a Tcf/Lef protein within a given cell. They can also affect cell fate decisions and cell lineages by recruiting histone modifying enzymes to binding sites in the genome.
Another emerging area of interest in the lab involves development of new technology related to CRISPR-Cas9 and genome editing. Generally, we are interested in genome editing at multiple levels, from the biophysical forces used by RNA-guided nucleases to the safety of genome editing based therapies. Development of new technologies complements our interests in development and stem cell biology, because we can use those genetic tools to answer new and interesting questions.

Research Areas

  • Pluripotency

    Our lab studies early embryonic development, especially the role of the Tcf/Lef family and the Wnt/B-Catenin pathway.

  • CRISPR-Cas9

    We're interested in the biology of CRISPR-Cas9 mediated editing and repair outcomes.

Genome Editing Core

The GEC seeks to enable broad incorporation of genome editing technology and genetically engineered cells and mice into researcher's programs by providing CRISPR reagents, training, and services.
To use the Core's DNA/RNA design and production, mouse or cell line services, go to the Project Initiation page and submit a request. Information about our amplicon sequencing service and sequencing requests can be found on the Sequencing page. Subscribe by email to stay updated when we add new videos, protocols, or services.

Dr. Brad Merrill

Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
University of Illinois at Chicago

Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 1999
Postdoc, University of Chicago, and Rockefeller University, 2004