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Leukemia cells

How alike are the cancer cells from a single patient?

Even within a single patient with cancer, there is a vast diversity of individual tumor cells, which display distinct behaviors related to growth, metastasis, and responses to chemotherapy. To carry out these behaviors, each cancer cell uses its genes to make the needed molecules in a unique way known as its “gene expression signature.” To …

Students

California’s stem cell agency awards USC $5 million to train scientists and clinicians

USC has been awarded a $5 million training grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to prepare PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and clinical fellows for careers in stem cell research. CIRM also approved 17 other training programs at universities and clinical facilities across California, including one at USC-affiliated Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). …

Bell in the lab

Drug-like molecule points to novel strategies for cancer therapy

A decade ago, genome sequencing revealed a big surprise: about 50 percent of human cancers are linked to mutations in what are known as epigenetic regulators, which control the activity of genes. In a new study in Cell Chemical Biology, a team of scientists led by Oliver Bell from USC and Stephen V. Frye from …

Impromptu McMahon lab meeting

USC Stem Cell: An incubator for medicine of the 21st century

Just over a decade ago, USC was a university with a few scattered stem cell biologists, and a vision for total transformation. The university was committed to designing a unique “incubator” for researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and beyond to collaborate and leverage the transformative power of stem cells to develop …

Illustration by Jonathan Haase

Cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet help mice live longer, healthier

While many diets have been studied for effectiveness in preventing obesity and heart disease in both mice and humans, research on the effects and benefits of short, periodic cycles of fasting on obesity and heart health are lacking. In a new USC study on the health effects of a low-calorie diet that mimics fasting in the body, researchers found regular five-day cycles of the diet in mice seemed to counteract the detrimental effects of their usual high-fat, high-calorie diet. The study, published today in Nature Metabolism, analyzed the diet, health and lifespan …

Bérénice Benayoun

Bérénice Benayoun receives prestigious investigator-focused grant

The Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award directly supports scientists, providing stability, flexibility and more opportunities for breakthroughs. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded an R35 Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) to USC Leonard Davis Assistant Professor Bérénice Benayoun to support her research on mechanisms of genomic regulation and how they influence health and …

(Image courtesy of iStock)

Top scientists and research institutions propose improvements to cell- and gene-based therapy development

Led by a USC cell and gene therapy researcher, an international coalition calls for more transparency and reproducibility in research and development of breakthrough treatments.   Scientists around the world are achieving significant advances in the fight against devastating diseases like cancer, severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) disorder and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) thanks to leading-edge cell- …

Neutrophil

Study highlights differences in immune cell function between male and female mice

A new USC study of a common, yet poorly understood type of white blood cell reveals the human immune cell’s response to pathogens differs greatly by sex and by age.  In this mouse study, males proved much more susceptible to a condition called sepsis than females. However, the scientists also found that the female disease-defense system is hardly perfect; their system changes with age to become nearly as harmful as the males’.    Those are the key findings in a study that appeared July 19, 2021 in Nature Aging.   …

3-D illustration of ciliated cells. (Image courtesy of iStock)

Could mapping tiny hairlike structures help treat lung illnesses?

With a $2.3 million NIH award, USC researchers will study how cilia behavior and structure impact their function, a key in improving diagnostics and treatments for lung illnesses like COVID-19. Cilia, microscopic hairlike structures found along the bronchi (air passages throughout the lungs), are the first line of defense against environmental pollutants, viruses and bacteria. …

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 …

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

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 …

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 …

Lung organoids

USC scientist Ya-Wen Chen receives American Lung Association grant to advance stem cell-based lung therapies

USC Stem Cell scientist Ya-Wen Chen hopes to pioneer a new approach to regenerating damaged lung tissue, with support from a Catalyst Grant from the American Lung Association (ALA). The award provides $50,000 year for up to two years. “For many patients with chronic lung diseases, the only available treatment is transplantation—a difficult, dangerous surgery …

USC Stem Cell scientist Amy Ryan studies diseases from cystic fibrosis to COVID-19

Scientist Amy Ryan has never lived according to a fixed plan. Instead, she has followed where life has led her—to a position as an assistant professor of medicine and stem cell biology and regenerative medicine at USC, studying lung diseases ranging from cystic fibrosis to COVID-19. Ryan’s original plan had little to do with lung …

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 …

Paula Cannon

Gene therapy research for HIV awarded $14.6 million NIH grant

An HIV research program led by scientists at USC and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has received a five-year, $14.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The team is advancing a gene therapy approach to control the virus without the need for daily medicines. The program’s co-directors are Paula Cannon, PhD, Distinguished Professor …

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 …

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