The Esseltine Lab

Using stem cells and the latest in gene editing technology to study cell-cell communication and rare genetic diseases.

Who We Are

Located at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, NL, the Esseltine lab uses induced pluripotent stem cells and the latest in gene-editing technology to study cell-cell communication and rare genetic diseases.

As an island of remote fishing communities, Newfoundland and Labrador is burdened with many genetic diseases that are otherwise rare around the world. This is an excellent opportunity for translational research through working with these concentrated patient populations.

Our research tools are induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), cells from adult humans that have been reprogrammed so that they have the potential to become any cell in the human body. By genetically modifying iPSCs with CRISPR-Cas9 and then differentiating them into other cell types, we can discover the importance of many proteins during human development.


Follow the links below for more detailed information about ongoing projects in the Esseltine lab.

How does Pannexin1 influence brain formation? Using cerebral organoids (pictured above), we are able to model the importance of these hemichannels during brain development.

How does cellular communication modulate the earliest developmental stages? Using CRISPR-Cas9 mediated deletion of members of the Connexin family (shown above with a side-by-side comparison of a stem cells with Connexin43 and their gene-deleted counterparts), we can investigate how direct cell-cell communication leads to tissue specification.

To families suffering from rare genetic diseases, their affliction is seen as a curse. Using patient-derived stem cells, CRISPR-Cas9, and directed differentiation, we are able to investigate the cause of these curses at a cellular level, paving the way for translational, personalized medicine.