"Controlling Stem Cells"

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The Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience welcomes Ronald D. G. McKay, a senior investigator in the Lieber Institute for Brain Development at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, as its 2010 Distinguished Lecturer.

Title: "Controlling Stem Cells"

The regenerative potential of the adult mammalian brain is not well understood and as a result, is not exploited. The presence of stem cells in the adult mammalian brain suggests that (1) a repair mechanism in the adult brain contributes to its homeostatic maintenance and (2) targeting the adult neural stem cell compartment may be a valid clinical strategy for degenerative disorders. Although transplantation of neural stem cells or their differentiated progeny is an obvious therapeutic approach, in vitro studies reveal signals that may enable their pharmacological manipulation, avoiding the problems associated with grafting. This increased numbers of stem cells may have beneficial effects on adjacent neurons. We report that increasing the number of endogenous stem cells in vivo promotes the survival of injured neurons and confers behavioral improvements in models of both ischemic stroke and Parkinson's disease. This work suggests a strategy to pharmacologically enhance tissue repair by targeting endogenous stem cells may replace cell transplantation as the major clinical goal in stem cell biology. I will use the injured liver as second example of how an interest in stem cells leads to new insights in regeneration. In closing, I will return to the idea that neural stem cells and neurons and suggest general strategies to understand psychiatric disease.

About the Speaker:
RON MCKAY received a B.Sc. in 1971 and a Ph.D. in 1974 from University of Edinburgh, where he studied under Edwin Southern examining DNA organization and chromosome structure. He received postdoctoral training at University of Oxford working with Walter Bodmer examining the first restriction-fragment-length polymorphism (RFLPs) in the human genome. In 1978, he became a senior staff investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory concentrating on two areas: developing the first immunoassay for DNA-protein complexes and establishing the field of molecular neuroscience. Joining the MIT faculty in 1984, Dr. McKay identified neural stem cells as a tool to study brain development and function. In 1993 he joined the NIH as chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at NINDS. His laboratory studies pluripotent and somatic stem cells with a particular focus on regeneration of the nervous system.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Colly Mitchell
  • Created: 09/14/2010
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

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