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Schizophrenia, autism and other neurological disorders are caused by a complex interaction between inherited genetic risk and environmental experiences. The overarching goal of the group are to reveal molecular mechanisms of gene by environment interactions related to altered neural development and liability for brain disorders. Our research uses a hybrid of human stem cell models, post-mortem tissue and computational approaches to interrogate the contribution of epigenetic regulation and somatic mosaicism to brain diseases. Our previous work has demonstrated that the human brain exhibits extensive genetic variability between neurons within the same brain, termed "somatic mosaicism" due to mobile DNA elements which mediate large somatic DNA copy number variants. We study environment-responsive mechanisms and consequences for somatic mosaicism and are discovering the landscape of somatic mosaicism in the brain. We also study the epigenetic regulation of cell specification and activity-d...ependent states within the human dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex and striatum. view more
The Kunisaki lab is a R01-funded regenerative medicine group within the Division of General Pediatric Surgery at Johns Hopkins that works at the interface of stem cells, mechanobiology, and materials science. We seek to understand how biomaterials and mechanical forces affect developing tissues relevant to pediatric surgical disorders. To accomplish these aims, we take a developmental biology approach using induced pluripotent stem cells and other progenitor cell populations to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which fetal organs develop in disease.
Our lab projects can be broadly divided into three major areas: 1) fetal spinal cord regeneration 2) fetal lung development 3) esophageal regeneration
Lab members: Juan Biancotti, PhD (lab manager); Lynn Zhou, PhD (postdoc), Shelby Sferra, MD, MPH (postdoc); Annalise Penikis, MD (postdoc)
Kunisaki SM, Jiang G, Biancotti JC, Ho KKY, Dye BR, Liu AP, Spence JR. Human indu...ced pluripotent stem cell-derived lung organoids in an ex vivo model of congenital diaphragmatic hernia fetal lung. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2021, PMID: 32949227
Biancotti JC, Walker KA, Jiang G, Di Bernardo J, Shea LD, Kunisaki SM. Hydrogel and neural progenitor cell delivery supports organotypic fetal spinal cord development in an ex vivo model of prenatal spina bifida repair. Journal of Tissue Engineering 2020, PMID: 32782773.
Kunisaki SM. Amniotic fluid stem cells for the treatment of surgical disorders in the fetus and neonate. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2018, 7:767-773view less