Dravojlovic, Michelle L.


Michelle is a second year trainee and is in the Molecular Biology IDP.  Her research mentor is Dr. Julian Martinez.  She received a B.S. degree in 2007 from UC Irvine.

Mentor: Dr. Julian Martinez

Research project:

In organs for which a stem cell niche is central in maintaining a population of stem cells, there must be a fundamental role for the niche in regulating the final dynamics of tissue growth.  Our labo is interested in understanding how the growth of a tissue is regulated at the level of a stem cell niche.  We utilize the Drosophila hematopoietic organ, the lymph gland, as a genetic model in which to study niche–stem cell interactions and have identified the Target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway as a candidate for studying the role of the niche in this process.  My project involves examining the role of the TOR growth signaling pathway in the Drosophila lymph gland and characterizing a specific role for the TOR pathway within the hematopoietic niche, distinct from any function this pathway may have in the progenitor cell or differentiated blood cell populations. I am also examining the integration of signals derived from activated fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptors into the TOR pathway as a possible mechanism for regulating niche size and in turn lymph gland growth in Drosophila.