Dr. Ryan Driskell is an assistant professor and the head of the Fibroblast and Skin Regeneration Laboratory in the School of Molecular Biosciences. He trained as a cell and developmental biologist in the laboratory of Dr. John Engelhardt at the University of Iowa, where he received his PhD in 2006 studying lung biology and Wnt signaling. He then completed his post-doctoral training in Dr. Fiona Watt’s laboratories at Cambridge University and King’s College London in the United Kingdom, where he established a functional fibroblast lineage hierarchy that is important in regulating the architectural nature of skin development and wound repair. The Driskell Laboratory at WSU uses transgenic mouse technologies in conjunction with molecular and histological techniques to deduce an understanding to induce skin regeneration.
What are your current research interests and what attracted you to that area?
My current research interests are in understanding how skin is created during embryonic development. These processes are important to know so that we can activate similar mechanisms to reprogram adult skin for regeneration during wound healing and to inhibit the aging process. In other words, trying to understand how skin is built in the first place so that we know how to repair it from the effects of wounds and aging.
What do you ultimately hope to accomplish with your research?
The ultimate goal of my research is to be able to increase the quality of human and animal life by being able to induce regenerative healing and to retain youthful attributes of skin throughout aging.
How are you using bioinformatics in your research?
In my research, I heavily rely on bioinformatics to analyze and extract information from single-cell and epigenomic data, enabling us to make fundamental discoveries in the field of skin development, wound repair, and regeneration. What’s particularly interesting is that even though we generate the bulk of the genomic data in my laboratory, we have also successfully integrated datasets from other research groups to make insightful discoveries. Furthermore, we make all of our genomic datasets available to the scientific community through an interactive web tool at skinregeneration.org.
How do you see bioinformatics impacting research in the coming years?
I believe the field of bioinformatics and data analysis will continue to exert a profound impact on biological research in the years ahead. As computers and computational methods advance at an accelerating rate, parallel to the increasing creation of large genomic datasets, we are poised to amass a wealth of knowledge. This knowledge will empower us to gain deeper insights into disease mechanisms, drug discovery, and personalized medicine.
When your career is over, what do you want to be remembered for?
This is up to the world to decide.
How can your research help people and animals?
The skin of all animals and humans undergoes an aging process and develops scars from wounds throughout life. I hope that the research in my lab can help to repair skin wounds without scars but also to understand how to retain youthful, healthy skin.
What do you enjoy about working with students?
Teaching students to turn a dream into a reality.
What advice would you give to younger people considering a career in science?
Keep dreaming about a better world but learn how to choose which dreams to make a reality.
Why did you choose to come to WSU?
WSU has an open and accepting environment.