Primary Research Focus
The Tao Lab focuses on understanding the basic mechanisms underlying pathophysiological osteoblast function to effectively treat skeletal diseases like inborn osteosclerosis and osteosarcoma as well as to guide therapies like bone regeneration.
Skeletal NOTCH proteins regulate embryogenesis and play a critical role in osteoblast function and in skeletal development and homeostasis. Pathological notch signaling has emerged as a critical disease-mechanism for skeletal diseases.
The lab’s main goal is to dissect molecular mechanisms underlying NOTCH-related skeletal diseases, particularly within the setting of pathological osteoblast functions.
Dr. Tao’s research may provide novel mechanistic insights into the pathogenesis of skeletal diseases, explore regulatory and biochemical mechanisms in molecular detail in vivo, and open new opportunities for effective treatments of the diseases.
About the Tao Lab
Lab Projects and News
National Institute of Health Grant
Project Title: Dissecting of developmental signaling pathways in bone development and osteosarcoma
Role: Project Principal Investigator
This is an investigation of the role of driver-regulated developmental signaling pathways in the formation and maintenance of bone cancer stem cells and metastasis.
National Science Foundation Grant
Project Title: MRI: Acquisition of a Micro-CT system for 3D tissue and materials structure analysis
Role: Project Co-Principal Investigator
The objective of this project is to maintain a high-resolution, non-destructive 3-dimensional specimen micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) imaging instrument to study the structure of 3-dimensional biomaterials as well as animal and plant tissues for science research and education in South Dakota.
Meet the Tao Team
Fang Fang, PhD
Fang Fang joined the Tao Lab in 2015 to investigate genetic pathways that affect skeletal health and diseases including osteosarcoma, osteoporosis, and osteosclerosis.
Fang Fang holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2014, where she studied molecular mechanisms of cell signaling in the areas of physiological and pathological bone metabolism as well as molecular basis that links metabolism to the body clock and metabolic diseases.
Haydee Torres, PhD Candidate
Haydee Torres joined the Tao Lab in 2018 to investigate novel Notch interacting partners that are critical for the formation of Notch nuclear complexes and examine the roles of these effectors in osteosarcoma initiation, progression and metastasis in mouse models of human skeletal disease.
Torres is currently a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry at South Dakota State University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Villanova University as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from St. Thomas University.
Ashley VanCleave, BS
Ashley VanCleave joined the Tao Lab in 2017 to assist the team in the characterization of mouse models of human skeletal diseases including osteosarcoma and human osteosarcoma cells.
VanCleave holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Briar Cliff University.
Mykayla Palmer, BS
Sanford SPUR Scholar Intern
Mykayla Palmer joined the Tao Lab in 2018 to the properties of human and mouse Osteosarcoma Cancer Stem Cells and the effects of therapeutic drugs (e.g. mTORC1 inhibition by Rapamycin).
Palmer holds a bachelor’s degree in medical biology from the University of South Dakota.