Project Objective: Research Insights

Modeling Alexander disease using patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells

Alexander disease (AxD) is a devastating childhood disease that affects neural development and causes mental retardation, seizures and spasticity. The most common form of AxD occurs during the first two years of life and AxD children show delayed mental and physical development, and die by the age of six. AxD occurs in diverse ethnic, racial, […]

Mechanism of heart regeneration by cardiosphere-derived cells

In the process of a heart attack, clots form suddenly on top of cholesterol-laden plaques, blocking blood flow to heart muscle. As a result, living heart tissue dies and is replaced by scar. The larger the scar, the higher the chance of premature death and disability following the heart attack. While conventional treatments aim to […]

Deciphering transcriptional control of pancreatic beta-cell maturation in vitro

The loss of pancreatic beta-cells in type 1 diabetes results in absence of insulin secreted by the pancreas, and consequently elevated blood sugar which leads to various long-term complications. Diabetic patients would benefit tremendously from availability of transplantable replacement beta-cells. Much of current research focuses on producing beta-cells from stem cells. Despite some progress, it […]


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are an important population of cells that continuously produce and replace blood and immune cells over the course of our lifetimes. These rare, self-renewing cells are the key element of bone marrow transplants, which are used to treat a variety of conditions including many forms of leukemia and solid tumors. Understanding […]

Trop2 dependent and independent mechanisms of self-renewal in human cancer stem cells

Progress from our group and others has led to the identification of normal prostate tissue stem cells and the definition of important signaling pathways that regulate their growth and maintenance. Human cancers utilize these same pathways to promote malignancy and drive tumor progression. Our recent studies have uncovered an important regulatory molecule (Trop2) that is […]

Phenotyping Human Astrocytes in Health and Disease

An emerging theme from recent research is that autism and schizophrenia are diseases of synapses, the interconnections through which electrical signals are relayed from one neuron to the next neuron in a neural circuit. Up to now, most research has focused on new therapeutics that would target neurons and enhance the number of function of […]

Transcriptional regulation of pluripotency in human embryonic stem cells

All of the diverse cells in the human body contain the same genetic information, and originally arose from a single cell, a fertilized egg. Embryogenesis is a result of cell division followed by differential gene expression, to selectively activate only the genes needed for development of each specialized cell type. By understanding the multiple gene […]

Understanding the status of the X chromosomes in human ESCs and preimplantation embryos

Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are able to divide indefinitely and under the proper conditions, can essentially become any cell in the human body. They are derived from the developing human embryo and carry great promise for regenerative medicine. However, these cells demonstrate an instability surrounding the state of the X chromosome. Male (XY) cells […]

Common molecular mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases using patient based iPSC neurons

A major medical problem in CA is the growing population of individuals with neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s (PD) and Huntington’s (HD) disease. These diseases affect millions of people, sometimes during the prime of their lives, and lead to total incapacitation and ultimately death. No treatment blocks the progression of neurodegeneration. We propose to conduct fundamental […]

Role of mechanical signaling in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation

Cells feel subtle but constant pushes and tugs from their neighbors inside living organisms. Surprisingly, these tiny mechanical cues have a profound effect on how stem cells grow, divide, and turn into the many different cells that make up the human body. Based on recent findings in developmental, cancer, and stem cell biology, we hypothesize […]

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