Meet the affiliate scientists at ICE
Researchers and clinicians who become members of the ICE will contribute to this multidisciplinary environment aiming to harness the power of stem cells and regenerative medicine to improve human health. Becoming a member has such benefits as receiving announcements of ICE sponsored guest lectures and seminars. Members will also receive funding announcements and an ICE newsletter. Members are encouraged to collaborate with other ICE members and participate in ICE sponsored events. Members will also receive discounted rates for ICE core facilities.
For more information on becoming a member of ICE, please visit here.
- Xu Cao, Ph.D.
- Yuan Gao, Ph.D.
- Yoon-Young Jang, M.D., Ph.D.
- Vassilis Koliatsos, M.D., Ph.D.
- Dara L. Kraitchman, V.M.D, Ph.D.
- Chulan Kwon, Ph.D.
- Nicholas J. Maragakis, M.D.
- Erika Matunis, Ph.D.
- Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D.
- Linda Resar, M.D.
- Zack Wang, Ph.D.
Affiliate faculty research
The Cao lab studies the regulation of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell lineage commitment. Cao and his research team found that TGFß1 induces mesenchymal stem cell migration to couple bone resorption and formation during bone remodeling. High levels of active TGFß in the bone marrow microenvironment change the fate of mesenchymal stem cells and lead to skeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis. The team is characterizing the markers of mesenchymal stem cells through lineage tracing and determining their role in bone remodeling. In parallel, studies are underway to develop therapies for osteoarthritis by modulating mesenchymal stem cells.
The Jang lab focuses on understanding stem cell fate changes and their therapeutic applications. Her team uses both multipotent and pluripotent stem cells as research tools for studying pathogenesis of liver diseases, including chronic liver diseases and carcinogenesis. Researchers in the Jang lab generated a large panel of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines -- both from healthy and diseased tissues -- including primary hepatocytes, bone marrow stem cells, blood cells, keratinocytes, fibroblasts and tumor cells. In addition, they successfully differentiated these iPSCs into early and late stage hepatic cells by a step-wise hepatic specification protocol. Jang's research team showed the comprehensive functionality of these iPSC-derived liver cells using both in vitro and in vivo assays. Recently, their iPSC generation and hepatic differentiation technologies were successfully used in liver disease modeling, drug testing and cell therapy. Jang's lab is currently committed to the discovery and development of novel therapeutic approaches to liver disease prevention and treatment using this patient-specific iPSC technology.
The Koliatsos lab focuses on cellular therapies for neurodegenerative diseases and traumatic brain injuries. His team is characterizing the role of small GABAergic cortical interneurons, neurons that serve as sensors of injury, but may also scavenge injured neurons and cue adult stem cells in the brain. Using a mouse model of brain blast injury, Koliatsos studies immediate brain circuit disruption and chronic neurodegenerative side effects, as well as develops therapeutic strategies to prevent or repair damage. The group has successfully used neural stem cells to create grafts in animal models of ALS and spinal cord injury too.
The Kraitchman lab concentrates on clinical translation of minimally invasive imaging technology that uses new molecular imaging and nanomedicine techniques to enable stem cell tracking and enhanced engraftment. Recent research efforts in the lab have concentrated on developing X-ray-visible stem cells for cardiovascular applications. Using multimodality imaging techniques, the research team confirms stem cell viability with PET and bioluminescence. Then, using conventional devices currently in clinical trials, Kraitchman's researchers image and target stem cells to the heart directly using MRI fluoroscopy with a specialized MRI-compatible device or X-ray fluoroscopic imager. Since her lab develops all technology using clinical imaging systems with FDA-approved products (in an off-label manner), the translation of these techniques to patients in the clinic should be accelerated.
The Kwon lab focuses on deciphering the molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate the maintenance and differentiation of cardiovascular progenitor cells with the ultimate goal of developing cell therapies for heart disease and congenital heart defects. Kwon's researchers use mouse models, embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells to study the Notch and Wnt signal pathways responsible for heart development.
The Maragakis lab's main focus is in understanding disease mechanisms and targeting cell therapeutics for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In collaboration with Johns Hopkins neuroscientists, his laboratory helped create stem cell lines from ALS patients using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) methodologies. These cells will allow for the development of human cell lines which can be used for both the basic understanding of ALS astrocyte and motor neuron biology, as well as eventually identifying ALS therapeutics. Researchers in the Maragakis lab also focus on the potential therapeutic role of astrocyte replacement in ALS using glial stem cells. By transplanting glial stem cells into ALS animal models, the researchers in the Maragakis lab found that the stem cells can engraft, migrate and differentiate into astrocytes, and subsequently provide neuroprotection to vulnerable motor neuron pools. The team uses stem cell transplantation biology to understand the influences of mutant SOD1 astrocytes on normal, healthy motor neurons. A significant laboratory effort is underway to translate these discoveries into therapies for patients with ALS.
The Matunis lab studies the stem cells that sustain spermatogenesis in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to understand how signals from neighboring cells control stem cell renewal or differentiation. In the fruit fly testes, germ line stem cells attach to a cluster of non-dividing somatic cells called the hub. When a germ line stem cell divides, its daughter is pushed away from the hub and differentiates into a gonialblast. The germ line stem cells receive a signal from the hub that allows it to remain a stem cell, while the daughter displaced away from the hub loses the signal, and differentiates. Researchers in the Matunis lab have found key regulatory signals involved in this process. Using genetic and genomic approaches the Matunis lab continues to identify more genes that define the germ line stem cells'fate. The team is also investigating how spermatogonia reverse differentiation to become germ line stem cells again.
Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D.
Director, Brain Tumor Surgery Program
Director, Pituitary Surgery Program
Director, Neurosurgery Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory
Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery and Oncology
Dr. Q's laboratory studies the function of adult brain stem cells and how they may play a role in the origin of brain tumors. By investigating the neural stem cells in the subventricular zone, a place in the brain where new neurons form, Dr. Q's researchers are searching for a coorelation between stem cells and brain tumors. Early studies in rodents paved the way for understanding the subventricular zone, but now Dr. Q's goal is to use human specimens to study the function of the human brain. As a result, his team created a human brain tissue bank from tissue specimens of normal, as well as cancerous tissue from samples that would otherwise be disgarded. Dr. Q's ultimate goal is to find better treatments for brain cancer, perhaps through developing new cell replacement technologies.
Dr. Resar's studies molecular mechanisms leading to cancer, blood diseases, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia and other coagulopathies. Her research focuses on the HMG-I/Y gene family, which is widely overexpressed and functions as oncogenes in human cancers. Her laboratory recently developed transgenic mice overexpressing HMG-I; all mice develop aggressive lymphoid malignancy similar to leukemia and lymphoma in humans. Her studies also demonstrate that this gene is overexpressed in human lymphoid and other malignancies. Translational studies are underway to determine if overexpression of HMG-I is a marker for more aggressive human cancers. Resar's long-term goal is to develop more rational therapies that interfere with HMG-I/Y function in neoplastic transformation.
The Wang lab focuses on the signals that direct the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells, including embryonic stem cells and induced-pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, into hematopoietic and cardiovascular cells. Pluripotent stem cells hold great potential for regenerative medicine. A significant effort in the lab is underway to generate hematopoietic cells, such as megakaryocytes and platelets, from human iPS cells. Recently, Wang's team established a system to characterize the common precursors of hematopoietic and endothelial cells (hemangioblast or hemogenic endothelial cells) in human pluripotent stem cells. By transplanting endothelial cells derived from human pluripotent cells into immunodeficient mice, his researcher team showed these cells form functional blood vessels. Therefore, it is possible that endothelial cells from patient specific iPS cells could provide a cellular source for vascular regeneration in ischemic tissue. The team also investigates the niche function of endothelial cells in regulating cardiomyocyte development from pluripotent stem cells.