2013 CIRM Scholars
CIRM Clinical Fellows
Anabel S. de la Garza-Rodea, M.D., Ph.D.
Muscle stem cells (satellite cells) are critical for skeletal muscle regeneration and have been explored as a cell therapy for muscular dystrophies. The Saba lab has shown that the bioactive lipid sphingosine -1-phosphate (S1P) promotes satellite cell proliferation and exerts pro-survival actions. Using in vitro cell cultures and the mdx mouse model, I’m investigating role of S1P in promoting regeneration and stem cell expansion in the dystrophic or injured muscle environment.
James Jacobs MD, MPH
My research is focused on the role of small, non-coding
RNA molecules along with their associated protein partners in hematopoiesis.
Specifically, I'm interested in determining if the role these small RNA molecules
play in the maintenance of germ-line stem cells exists in hematopoietic stem
cells as well.
Xuefeng Qiu, M.D.
I’m interested in the development of tissue engineered vascular grafts that can incorporate into the circulatory system, mimic the vasoreactivity and biomechanics of the native vasculature, and maintain long-term patency. My project is focused on mechanisms of tissue formation in vascular tissue engineering, especially using the self-healing potential of the stem cell pool.
Postdoctoral CIRM Scholars
Badriprasad Ananthanarayanan, PhD
Two significant challenges impede the progression of stem cell-based therapies to the clinic: our limited ability to recapitulate microenvironmental cues from the native stem cell niche that govern many aspects of cell function; and the poor survival and engraftment of cells due to insults suffered during the transplantation process. I am developing a novel modular biomaterials platform based on hyaluronic acid and crosslinked using click chemistry for the study of microenvironmental influences on the differentiation of stem and progenitor cells in vitro, and as a biofunctional scaffold for transplantation of therapeutic cells in vivo.
Claudia Cattoglio, PhD
My research is focused on the transcriptional mechanisms underlying embryonic stem cell self-renewal, pluripotency and differentiation. In particular, my project aims at dissecting the transcriptional network orchestrated by the Xpc-Rad23b-Cetn2 trimeric complex, originally described as involved in DNA repair, and recently “rediscovered” in the Tjian lab as a co-activator of the Oct4 and Sox2 core transcription factors.
Robin Harris, PhD
As a postdoc in the Hariharan lab, my research focuses on understanding the process of regeneration in damaged tissue. I am using the presumptive wing of the fruit fly Drosophila to generate a genetics-based ablation and regeneration system, which can be used to identify a large number of genes involved in regulating tissue repair following injury.
Yuguo Lei, PhD
I am developing novel biomaterials for various stem cell applications. To achieve this, I screen or engineer peptide/protein ligands that are crucial for stem cell signaling and incorporate them into several hydrogels. These materials then can be used for expanding stem cells in large scale in vitro or injected to guide the proliferation or differentiation of stem cells in vivo.
Chao-po Lin, PhD
I am studying a class of non-coding RNAs, microRNAs, in the murine pluripotent stem cell context. Using mouse genetic models, I try to address the functional role(s) of microRNA-34 in the generation efficiency, as well as the quality of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
Heather Melichar, Ph.D.
I am interested in identifying the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate human T cell development. At present, in vitro protocols to generate human T cells from stem cell populations are inefficient. Thus, we have established novel human thymic slice models in order to better understand human T cell development in situ such that we can apply what we learn to improving in vitro differentiation systems.
Achim Werner, PhD
The Ubiquitin system has long been known as a key regulator of cell division and survival in somatic cells but has only recently emerged as an important player in stem cell pluripotency and differentiation. Yet, the precise molecular mechanisms how ubiquitylation controls these processes are still elusive. My postdoctoral work in the Rape lab focuses on a large family of Cul3-based Ubiquitin E3 ligases and their role in stem cell maintenance and differentiation.
Zhonghui Zhang, Ph.D.
My research is focused on the self-renewal and differentiation of human embryonic stem cells, and regulation of proliferation, differentiation, and lineage commitment of normal hematopoietic stem cells under homeostatic conditions and under conditions of stress. I am investigating the molecular mechanism by which the endogenous miR-302/367 cluster regulates growth, self-renewal, and differentiation of hESCs.
Predoctoral CIRM Scholars
David Covarrubias, PhD Candidate
David is interested in the interactions between astrocytes and neural progenitor cells, and how astrocytes mediate the effects of adult neurogenesis in the glucocorticoid environment during stress response. Furthermore, he is also interested in the functional formation of synapses in the new, adult-generated neurons, and the involvement of astrocytes in regulating the network integration of adult-born neurons.
Angela Kaczmarczyk, PhD Candidate
Germline cells play a unique role in development; these specialized cells form the gametes that allow for reproduction. The crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis displays the remarkable ability to replace its germline cells post-embryonically, resulting in fertile animals and normal offspring. I am investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in this replacement.
Kuan Lu, PhD Candidate
Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI) shows enormous promise as an ideal stem cell imaging modality. This new imaging technique is safe and noninvasive, and doesn’t require genetic modification to the stem cells. MPI is not depth-limited, and promises to image the implanted stem cells with extremely high contrast, high sensitivity, and the ability to accurately quantify cell number in vivo. I am working to significantly improve the sensitivity and resolution of MPI technology for stem cell tracking.
Brock Roberts, PhD Candidate
I am using differentiating stem cells to investigate the mechanism by which the Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signaling gradient is established during embryogenesis, and the downstream molecular events that occur during the interpretation of this gradient. Genes involved in the distribution and response to Shh are mutated in novel combinations within mouse embryonic stem cells and differentiated into embryoid bodies that recapitulate in vitro the hedgehog response. Because our ability to inactivate genes in mESCs in highly flexible and the differentiation protocol robust, critical experiments that are virtually impossible with traditional mouse crosses are now being performed.
Dawn Spelke, PhD Candidate
I am interested in studying and controlling the molecular mechanisms of cell-cell signaling in neural stem cells (NSCs). The Schaffer Lab recently discovered a novel mechanism of astrocyte-induced NSC neurogenesis via Eph/ ephrin signaling, so I am working towards further elucidating this pathway. Additionally, in collaboration with the Groves Lab, I am using a supported lipid bilayer system to mimic cell-cell interactions in the NSC niche. With this tool, we can investigate biophysical aspects of signaling regulation and propagation.