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AcuraStem awarded $1 million Department of Defense grant to develop ALS drug candidate

AcuraStem, a patient-based drug discovery platform company developing novel therapeutics for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and neurodegenerative diseases, has received an Amyotrophic Lat-eral Sclerosis Research Program (ALSRP) Therapeutic Development Award from the Department of Defense, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) totaling $1 million. Through CDMRP’s award mechanisms and funding rec-ommendations, the ALSRP highlights innovative …

Marcella Birtele

Marcella Birtele named Choi Family Postdoctoral Fellow at USC Stem Cell

In one sense, Marcella Birtele is following in her father’s footsteps: he works as an electrician in Italy, and she studies the electrophysiology of the brain as a postdoctoral fellow in Giorgia Quadrato’s lab at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC. “When I have doubts about …

Neural stem cells

Do our brains age faster than the rest of our bodies?

If you feel your brain power diminishing as you advance into middle age and beyond, blame your neural stem cells. In a new study published in Cell Stem Cell, a team led by USC Stem Cell scientist Michael Bonaguidi demonstrates that neural stem cells—the stem cells of the nervous system—age rapidly. “There is chronological aging, …

Pat Levitt (Photo courtesy of CHLA)

Chief Scientific Officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles appointed to CIRM Board

Pat Levitt, PhD, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ (CHLA) Chief Scientific Officer and Director of The Saban Research Institute, has been appointed to the board that oversees the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). CIRM is the voter-created agency that funds stem cell research at institutions and organizations throughout the state. “Dr. Levitt will bring a …

Leonardo Morsut

USC Stem Cell scientist Leonardo Morsut awarded $2.5 million NIH grant to explore “synthetic” embryonic development

Whether in an earthworm or a human being, developmental processes are driven by complex networks of genetically-encoded signals that enable cells to take cues from each other and their environment. To begin unraveling this complexity, USC Stem Cell scientist Leonardo Morsut is designing artificial genetic programs to perturb natural signaling networks and study how this …

Xi Chen

For USC scientist Xi Chen, a chicken is more than just an egg’s way of making another egg

USC postdoctoral researcher Xi Chen knows that you have to break a few eggs in order to grow chicken stem cells. His work on maintaining embryonic stem cells (ESC) from chicken eggs provides insight into stem cell pluripotency and evolutionary developmental biology. “The choice of beginning with fertilized chicken eggs was critical to the success …

JO neurons

USC Stem Cell scientists start a buzz around fruit flies in hearing research

Even though a fruit fly doesn’t have ears, it can hear with its antennae. In a new study published in the journal Development, USC Stem Cell scientists describe how adult flies can regenerate sensory hearing cells in their antennae, and how studying flies can provide a new way to understand and develop treatments for the …

Dion Dickman, Megan McCain, and Justin Ichida

Scientists Justin Ichida and Dion Dickman: USC’s coolest tenured professors from Hawaii

Now that Justin Ichida and Dion Dickman are both tenured professors at USC, they no longer have to worry about who was the coolest kid in their elementary schools back in Honolulu. But just for the record, it was Ichida. As a third-generation Hawaiian, Ichida fit right in. His background was similar to many on …

Jianfu Jeff Chen

From grains to brains, USC scientist Jianfu (Jeff) Chen uncovers the roots of disease

Although USC scientist Jianfu (Jeff) Chen now studies human neurological disorders, he was originally more interested in organisms without brains, such as rice and wheat. “When I was about to go to college in China, there was big emphasis on the biology major, because of the guy who happened to be a pioneer in the …

USC Stem Cell scientist Giorgia Quadrato receives a 2020 Mallinckrodt Grant

Giorgia Quadrato, an assistant professor in USC’s Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, was recently awarded an Edward Mallinckrodt Foundation (EMF) grant to further her research about modeling human brain development and disease. Quadrato is one of five fellows nationally to receive this competitive award in 2020.  Other recipients are in the fields …

Brain organoid

Brain development and disorder research receives $1.5 million NSF boost

The human brain is an incredibly complex organ to study in its living tissue form. Researchers cannot experiment on human tissue directly, and animal models are often too different to human physiology to be effective. For this reason, in the last decade, neurological research has been increasingly turning to “brain-on-a-chip” organoid models to give researchers …

Fraser by Noe Montes

USC biological imaging innovator elected to National Academy of Medicine

Scott Fraser, Provost Professor of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Physiology and Biophysics, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Pediatrics, Radiology and Ophthalmology, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Fraser, who holds joint appointments at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and USC Viterbi School of Engineering as well as …

Scott E. Fraser

USC’s Scott E. Fraser elected to National Academy of Medicine

USC biophysicist Scott E. Fraser, PhD, has as been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the organization announced Monday. He’s among 100 new members of the Academy. “For integrating biophysics, quantitative biology, and molecular imaging to enable unprecedented views of normal function and disease in live organisms, from embryonic development to old age,” the …

Ya-Wen Chen and Vishal Patel

The Baxter Foundation supports USC research on epilepsy and lung injury

The Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Foundation is supporting innovative biomedical research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC by granting $100,000 awards to two assistant professors: Vishal Patel, MD, PhD, in the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute (INI) and Ya-Wen Chen, PhD, in the USC Hastings Center for …

Justin Ichida named John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation Associate Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at USC

Justin Ichida has been named the John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation Associate Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at USC. This new endowed professorship recognizes Ichida’s progress in developing stem cell-based approaches to studying neurodegenerative diseases including ALS, frontotemporal dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. “Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 50 million people worldwide, and …

Organ of Corti

USC Stem Cell scientists find a simpler way to make sensory hearing cells

Scientists from the USC Stem Cell laboratories of Neil Segil and Justin Ichida are whispering the secrets of a simpler way to generate the sensory cells of the inner ear. Their approach uses direct reprogramming to produce sensory cells known as “hair cells,” due to their hair-like protrusions that sense sound waves. The study was …

Nanci Ryder

A tribute to patient advocate Nanci Ryder

We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and champion, Nanci Ryder. Nanci was an amazing woman who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others. As a Hollywood publicist, Nanci excelled at establishing the careers of rising stars. Her clients included Renee Zellweger, Michael J. Fox, Courteney Cox, Don Diamont, and countless …

20 day old cortical organoid courtesy of Tuan Nguyen Quadrato lab

USC scientists use brain organoids to study intellectual disability, with support from the SynGAP Research Fund

Maybe a child misses a developmental milestone, such as rolling over, or saying that first word. Perhaps the child also falls down due to seizures, or develops symptoms of an autism spectrum disorder. Eventually, a doctor pinpoints the cause: a rare and spontaneous variant in a gene called SYNGAP1, which leads to a variety of …

Men are from Mars

New award supports study of why females age differently than males

A new research project led by USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology Assistant Professor Bérénice Benayoun aims to learn more about why female mammals, including humans, age differently than males. Sex dimorphism – physiological characteristics that differ between the sexes in a species – can have big implications for health and lifespan. Human longevity differs …

Photo by Isaac Mora

Better cancer treatments may lie ahead thanks to Yong (Tiger) Zhang and USC engineers

A USC School of Pharmacy-led team has engineered a new, faster way to make drugs that precisely target malignant cells – while leaving healthy tissue undamaged – that could lead the way to better treatments for numerous types of cancer. The drugs, called antibody-drug conjugates or ADCs, belong to a relatively new class in which …

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