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The coronal suture contains stem cells (green).

Study of skull birth defect takes it from the top

Contrary to the popular song, the neck bone is actually connected to one of 22 separate head bones that make up the human skull. These plate-like bones intersect at specialized joints called sutures, which normally allow the skull to expand as the brain grows, but are absent in children with a birth defect called craniosynostosis. …

Organ of Corti

USC Stem Cell scientists explore the latent regenerative potential of the inner ear

Scientists from the USC Stem Cell laboratory of Neil Segil have identified a natural barrier to the regeneration of the inner ear’s sensory cells, which are lost in hearing and balance disorders. Overcoming this barrier may be a first step in returning inner ear cells to a newborn-like state that’s primed for regeneration, as described …

Scott Fraser by Noe Montes

USC Professor Scott E. Fraser redefines impossible problems

USC Professor Scott E. Fraser is known for inventing new microscopes and other tools to observe living, developing embryos. But one of his lab’s most important pieces of technology filters coffee instead of light: it’s a restaurant-quality Espresso machine. “I wanted to make a place where people would come to steal coffee,” he said. “And …

Inner ear sensory cells (left) and skin sensory cells from a one-day-old mouse

USC Stem Cell study points to a common ancestor for cells involved in hearing and touch

The sensory cells in the inner ear and the touch receptors in the skin actually have a lot in common, according to a new study from the USC Stem Cell laboratory of Neil Segil published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences (PNAS). “There are striking similarities in the development of two …

Megan McCain and family

USC Professor Megan McCain crafts an approach to tissue engineering

Megan McCain has always liked using her hands to create things, ranging from art projects to human heart cells that grow on silicon chips. “I’ve always loved building things and doing crafts, which drew me to engineering,” said McCain, who was recently awarded tenure as an Associate Professor and the Chonette Early Career Chair in …

Bérénice Benayoun receives GSA Nathan Shock New Investigator Award

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA)—the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging—has chosen Assistant Professor Bérénice Benayoun of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology as the 2021 recipient of the Nathan Shock New Investigator Award. The distinguished honor is given for outstanding contributions to new knowledge about aging through basic …

Unmesh Jadhav and Kimberly Gokoffski

The Baxter Foundation advances USC research on optic nerve disease and colorectal cancer

For over 60 years, the Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Foundation has supported innovative biomedical research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, each year granting $100,000 awards to two faculty members. This year, the Baxter Foundation awarded Kimberly Gokoffski, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the USC Roski Eye Institute, …

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 …

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