Dr. Christ has a broad interest in muscle physiology, intercellular communication and the role of muscle in the function and dysfunction of visceral, vascular and voluntary tissues (i.e., skeletal muscle). His research interests include physiological genomics, that is, establishing a verifiable link between changes in gene expression and alterations in cell/organ/tissue function/dysfunction, and then using this information to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of smooth muscle diseases/disorders. To this end, Dr. Christ has developed a multidisciplinary approach that utilizes various visceral and vascular smooth muscle tissues/organs to attempt to establish “cause and effect” relationships between molecular/genetic alterations and measurable changes in organ function, namely, contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle cells. Animal vascular and visceral tissues are studied both in vitro and in vivo. Molecular, biochemical, electrophysiological, pharmacological, immunochemical, and whole animal techniques (rat and mouse transgenics and knockouts) are all used to study the mechanistic basis for integrative tissue physiology, as well as tissue pathophysiology, dysfunction and therapeutic repair. Parallel in vitro studies are conducted on corresponding human tissues for target validation whenever possible.
The overall goal of his work is to translate scientific discoveries into technologies that can improve human health (i.e., translational research). In this regard, Dr. Christ is a co-inventor on more than 26 patents issued or applied for related to gene therapy treatments for smooth muscle disorders/diseases, and is the Co-Founder and Directing Member of Ion Channel Innovations, LLC., a development-stage biotechnology company pioneering the use of gene therapy for the treatment of human smooth muscle disorders.
Recently, Dr. Christ has also focused on the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. A major focus of these efforts is to develop in vitro protocols and bioreactor systems for the accelerated maturation of engineered tissues both in vitro and in vivo; in order to further enhance their applications in regenerative medicine. In this regard, he has become extensively involved in interdisciplinary basic and translational studies directed toward muscle and vessel tissue engineering, as well as bladder regeneration, and regenerative pharmacology.