One focus of the Chou laboratory is to investigate mechanisms of hematopoietic development and to understand the role of genetic modifiers in pediatric hematologic diseases, with a particular interest in Down syndrome associated blood abnormalities. Her lab uses iPSCs and primary samples from patients with blood diseases to model key features of these disorders and to study the underlying pathophysiology. Projects include understanding the role of Trisomy 21, GATA1, and other mutations in anemia, thrombocytopenia, myeloproliferative disorders, and pediatric leukemias.
The Chou laboratory is actively pursuing novel approaches to improve red blood cell therapy for patients with sickle cell disease. Research from her collaborative team demonstrated that variant RH among patients and donors contribute to Rh alloimmunization following transfusion. Ongoing work examines the RH loci in patients and blood donors and determining whether genetically matched blood at RH and other blood group loci can avoid alloimmunization. Her laboratory is creating customized iPSCs with designer blood group antigen combinations as renewable sources of red cells for the transfusion service laboratory, and for future use as transfusion products. Projects include understanding developmental cues for the transition from primitive (yolk sac) to definitive (fetal liver, adult) blood programs, investigating pathways or manipulating genes to enhance in vitro red cell differentiation and production, and additional uses for in vitro grown red cells.