Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Faculty Profiles
Robert W Dettman, PhD

Robert W Dettman, PhD

Research Assistant Professor of Urology

Focus of Work

Bio

My interest is in cell fate decisions that lead either to normal development or pathology. In many cases, epithelial cells are induced to undergo cell-shape and migratory changes that allow them to become mesenchymal fibroblasts. This is a process called epithelial-mesenchymal transition or EMT. Fibroblasts then differentiate into new cell types or, in the case of fibrotic disease, abnormal myofibroblasts. In the bladder, outlet obstruction leads to permanent changes to the bladder wall resultin...[Read full text]My interest is in cell fate decisions that lead either to normal development or pathology. In many cases, epithelial cells are induced to undergo cell-shape and migratory changes that allow them to become mesenchymal fibroblasts. This is a process called epithelial-mesenchymal transition or EMT. Fibroblasts then differentiate into new cell types or, in the case of fibrotic disease, abnormal myofibroblasts. In the bladder, outlet obstruction leads to permanent changes to the bladder wall resulting in either a small, high resistance bladder or a very large, atonic bladder. In either case, this leads to difficulties in emptying the bladder and this causes retrograde pressure on the ureters and kidney injury. While clinically this problem is well understood, little is known about the cellular changes that affect the bladder wall. We are using Cre-loxP cell labeling techniques in combination with a bladder outlet obstruction model in mice. Current projects involve the use of the "Confetti" reporter to label small clones of cells in the adult bladder prior to injury. Inducible Cre expression in the urothelium, stroma and serosa will activate the color in these cells and bladders will be injured. We will then be able to determine which cells contribute myofibroblasts to the bladder wall and if this involves EMT.

A second interest is in bladder regeneration. It is well reported that the bladder can re-grow after resection. It is also known that when acellular, extracellular matrix patches are used to replace resected bladders that endogenous cells migrate and repopulate the acellular patch (AKA augment). We have found that re-growth of the bladder after resection involves partial regeneration of the bladder in association with fibrotic changes to the bladder wall throughout the entire bladder. Future studies will be to study cell fates during regeneration (using Cre labeling) as well as drugs that could potentially improve the way in which the bladder regenerates.[Shorten text]

Keywords


Education and Certification

  • PhD: Indiana University (1994)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: University of California, San Francisco, Cardiovascular Research Institute (1999)

Contact

Administrative office: 773-755-6747
Laboratory: 773-755-6371

Stanley Manne Children's Research Center
2430 N. Halsted St.
Chicago IL 60614