Twenty-Four Johns Hopkins Researchers Awarded Stem Cell Research Funds From Maryland State
This year, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission awarded 24 of its 31 grants to Johns Hopkins researchers. The grants will support projects to study the basic principles of how stem cells work, as well as to develop potential therapies for conditions ranging from sickle cell disease to diabetes to epilepsy. This year's grants will total $10.4 million; the commission will announce the amounts of each grant later.
"With federal funding being cut back by the sequester, state grants are more important than ever to support this potentially life-saving research," says Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Institute for Cell Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "It's a testament to the high quality and broad scope of stem cell research at Johns Hopkins that our researchers are so well-represented on this year's list of awardees."
Researchers with promising preliminary data were awarded Investigator-Initiated grants. These grants were awarded to:
Angelo All, M.D., M.B.A., in collaboration with University of Maryland, Baltimore, for the project "Acute Hypothermia and Induced Human Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cell Transplants to Improve Functionality after Spinal Cord Injury."
Robert Brodsky, M.D., for the project "Bone Marrow Transplant for Sickle Cell Disease and Lupus."
Valina Dawson, Ph.D., for the project "Parkinson's Disease-Causing Mutations in LRRK2 Lead to Neuronal Dysfunction in Human Neurons."
Assaf Gilad, Ph.D., in collaboration with the Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger, Inc. (KKI), for the project "Visualization of Gene Expression Promoting Adipose-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cell Tropism for Brain Tumors."
Yoon-Young Jang, M.D., Ph.D., in collaboration with the Duke Liver Center at Duke University and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, for the project "Developing Novel Therapy for Liver Fibrosis Using Patient-Specific Stem Cells."
Gabsang Lee, D.V.M., Ph.D., in collaboration with the Life Technologies Corporation, for the project "Direct Conversion of Fibroblasts into Induced Neural Crest (iNC) with Single Transcription Factor & Cell Extrinsic Factors."
Saul Sharkis, Ph.D., for the project "Stem Cell Transplantation Therapy for Diabetes."
Leslie Tung, Ph.D., in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, for the project "Mechanistic Studies of ARVD/C Dysfunction Using Human iPSC-Derived Cardiac Tissues."
Exploratory grants were awarded to researchers either new to the stem cell field or with untested but promising new ideas:
Jeff Bulte, Ph.D., in collaboration with CosmeticSurg and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, for the project "19F Hot Spot MRI of Human Adipose-Derived Stem and Progenitor Cells for Breast Reconstruction."
Kimberly M. Christian, Ph.D., for the project "Using Human Neurons for Functional Reorganization in a Model of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy."
Hugo Guerrero-Cazares, M.D., Ph.D., for the project "Controlling Migration of Human-Derived Fetal Neural Stem Cells Via Slit Proteins in a Demyelination Animal Model."
Xiaofeng Jia, M.D., Ph.D., for the project "Electrical Stimulation on Neural Crest Stem Cell Transplantation in Nerve Regeneration."
Han Seok Ko, Ph.D., for the project "Characterization of Glucocerebrosidase Deficiency Pathway in Parkinson's Disease."
Seulki Lee, Ph.D., in collaboration with the Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger, Inc., for the project "Design of Highly Fluorinated Stem Cells for 19F MR Imaging in Cardiac Repair."
Kathryn Wagner, M.D., Ph.D., for the project "A Three-Dimensional Environment for Skeletal Muscle Stem Cell Transplantation."
Select postdoctoral trainees also will receive funding for research projects:
Akshata Almad, Ph.D., for the project "Human iPSC Cell-Derived Astrocytes to Study ALS and Astrocyte Connexins as a Therapeutic Target."
Peter Andersen, Ph.D., for the project "Identification of Chamber-Specific Cardiac Progenitor Populations."
Jing Cai, Ph.D., for the project "Hippo Signaling in Intestinal Stem Cell Homeostasis and Carcinogenesis."
Fabien Delaspre, Ph.D., for the project "Maturation of Human Embryonic Stem Cells-Derived Pancreatic Progenitors into Insulin Producing Cells."
Jing Fan, Ph.D., for the project "PARP-1 and Histone1 Interplay and Regulate Stem Cell Differentiation After Stroke."
Jeffrey Huo, M.D., Ph.D., for the project "The Role of Somatic Memory in Determining Efficient Hematopoietic Differentiation of hiPSC."
Xiaowei Li, Ph.D., for the project "Enhancing Therapeutic Potential of Human Neural Stem Cells."
Jinchong Xu, Ph.D., for the project "Cell Replacement for Stroke Using hiPSC-Derived, 3D-Organized Cortical Neurons."
Ludovic Zimmerlin, Ph.D., for the project "Genetic Correction of Sickle-Cell-Disease Human iPSC Converted to a Murine-ESC-Like State."
The governor and the Maryland General Assembly first enacted the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund in 2006 as a way to promote stem cell research and treatments for disease in the state of Maryland. The funds are managed by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), a group designed to facilitate the state's business development.