Berkeley Stem Cell Center
Principal Investigator

Irina Conboy

Irina Conboy
Associate Professor of Bioengineering
University of California, Berkeley

Collins Lab Website


In the last 7 years my laboratory has generated 25 publications that contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms which govern the performance of organ stem cells (such as muscle stem cells) in young versus aged mammals. Aging causes multiple pathologies, perfectly exemplified by muscle atrophy, and clearly there is a need for a better understanding of why stem cells dedicated to organ maintenance and repair fail in the elderly. One key direction of my laboratory is to understand how canonical signal transduction networks (such as TGF-betaNotch/Wnt/MAPK) regulate the behavior of organ stem cells, and to identify age-related changes in signal cross-talk. Engineering stem cells to be impervious to the inhibitory signals emanating from aged niches is our important translational ramification. Another research avenue in progress is focused on human embryonic cell-produced molecules that are able to positively regulate the regenerative capacity of adult and old tissues. The reversal of cell fate from myotubes to muscle stem/progenitor cells by small molecules using novel microfluidics for isolation and characterization of regenerative cells at single cell levels and systemic rejuvenation of tissue repair are some of our active projects. Success in these research directions will improve our understanding of stem cells and will enable rational approaches for delaying the devastating regenerative decline that invariably accompanies human aging.