David T. Breault, M.D., Ph.D.
As a physician-scientist caring for children with chronic disease, Dr. Breault is acutely aware of the burden caused by these conditions and the need for improved therapeutic treatment options. Regenerative medicine offers enormous hope for the treatment of many conditions either through the directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells or through the activation of endogenous tissue stem cells.
Dr. Brault's laboratory is pursuing the hypothesis that telomerase (mTert) expression is a biomarker for self-renewing progenitor/stem cells from a variety of self-renewing tissues. To test this hypothesis they have generated a series of transgenic mouse models to identify and functionally validate putative stem cell populations. Their initial studies involved the generation of mTert-GFP mice, which were used to validate that mTert expression marks stem cell populations in bone marrow, testis and small intestine (Breault, DT et al. 2008, PNAS). This work was initially funded through an Innovative Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as well as a Harvard Stem Cell Institute Seed Grant, which enabled the generation of a second model, mTert-CreER, useful for functional lineage-tracing studies. Together these models have lead to the discovery of several populations of slowly-cycling tissue stem cells, including an elusive intestinal stem cell (Montgomery, RK et al. PNAS, 2011).