Whereas chemical screening has traditionally focused on simple, in vitro assays, many biological phenomena are difficult to reduce to an in vitro assay. The Peterson lab is using the tools of chemical biology to investigate these complex in vivo phenomena. By conducting high-throughput screens with intact, living zebrafish, small molecules can be discovered that alter virtually any biological process.
The lab is applying this approach in three areas: 1) developmental biology, including cardiovascular development and germ cell development; 2) disease physiology, including heart failure, anemia, and neurodegenerative diseases; and 3) animal behaviors. In each of these areas, the novel small molecules discovered are providing new biological insights and/or novel therapeutic opportunities.