Numerous researchers in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Biochemistry perform in vivo biochemical studies. Meaning “within the living,” these studies focus on understanding a particular molecular process in the context of an entire organism rather than isolating it in an artificial tissue, culture cell, or test tube, called in vitro.
The two methods of scientific experimentation are powerful and each has its advantages and disadvantages, but with the advent of gene editing technologies such as CRISPR, the in vivo studies are cracking open exciting new ways to understand what’s going on at the genetic and molecular levels in organisms. These researchers use model organisms, such as the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster — like in the lab of Assistant Professor Jill Wildonger — and Caenorhabditis elegans, a microscopic worm — like in the lab of Professor Judith Kimble.
These organisms allow scientists to study fundamental processes in vivo and make inferences about how those processes work in larger organisms like humans. Other faculty members who are performing in vivo studies include professors Wes Pike and Alan Attie, who use mice as a model in their research. They study areas like vitamin regulation and diabetes, respectively. In vivo can also be interpreted to mean work in an entire bacterial or fungal cell, as is the case with Associate Professor Aaron Hoskins’ work in yeast.
In the Q&A at the link below, biochemistry faculty Kimble and Wildonger share what this type of study entails both broadly in the department and in their research. Click the link below to read more.