Dr. James A Coffman
PositionAssociate Professor; Director, Maine INBRE
Research in my lab seeks to understand how environmental conditions influence early development to affect adult anatomy, physiology and health. The work addresses two questions: (1) how interactions between regulatory genes and their protein products control development, and (2) how environmental stressors perturb those interactions to affect the course of development. Current research in my lab uses zebrafish as a model organism to elucidate developmental gene regulatory networks affected by chronic exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, in an effort to understand the mechanisms underlying the epidemiological correlation between chronic early life stress and adult disease risk. In addition to my experimental research, I am interested in theoretical approaches to the problem of biological development and evolution, in particular from the perspective of complex systems theory, and have published numerous papers and one book on that subject.