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By superimposing images of several of the kidney’s filtering units, known as nephrons, researchers can visualize how little these structures deviate from a stereotypical developmental trajectory.

USC-led study traces the blueprints for how human kidneys form their filtering units

When it comes to building a kidney, only nature possesses the complete set of blueprints. But a USC-led team of scientists has managed to borrow some of nature’s pages through a comprehensive analysis of how kidneys form their filtering units, known as nephrons. Published in the journal Developmental Cell, the study from Andy McMahon’s lab …

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 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 …

A mouse kidney one month after acute injury. Cells that proliferated in response to the injury are shown in green. (Image by Louisa M. S. Gerhardt/McMahon Lab)

The same cell type can help or hinder repair after acute kidney injury

The USC Stem Cell laboratory of Andy McMahon has identified a type of injured cell that might contribute to the transition from an acute kidney injury to chronic kidney disease, as described in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The same issue of PNAS also features an …

kidney organoid

USC Stem Cell scientists make big progress in building mini-kidneys

A team of scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of USC has created what could be a key building block for assembling a synthetic kidney. In a new study in Nature Communications, Zhongwei Li and his colleagues describe how they can generate rudimentary kidney structures, known as organoids, that resemble the collecting duct system …

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 …

Impromptu McMahon lab meeting

USC Stem Cell study identifies molecular “switch” that turns precursors into kidney cells

Kidney development is a balancing act between the self-renewal of stem and progenitor cells to maintain and expand their numbers, and the differentiation of these cells into more specialized cell types. In a new study in the journal eLife from Andy McMahon’s laboratory in the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the …

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 …

Tracy Tran

USC Stem Cell PhD student Tracy Tran: Celebrating the journey of a budding developmental biologist

As a child in Vietnam, Tracy Tran helped her family run a small business importing porcelain products from China and assumed she would follow in their footsteps. Neither of her parents had a college degree, and they worked very hard to support Tran and her sister. Once her parents finally had the resources, they used …

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 …

Wilms tumor team

A bench-to-bedside approach to Wilms tumor

Stefano Da Sacco, PhD, calls Wilms tumor “an underdog” in the research world. “If you go to the American Urological Association or other meetings, there aren’t many presentations or discussions about Wilms tumor,” Dr. Da Sacco says. “From my experience, it’s understudied. Not many basic scientists are working on it.” It’s a different story at …

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 …

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 …

Andrew P. McMahon

USC Professor Andrew P. McMahon elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Andrew P. McMahon—who is the W.M. Keck Provost and University Professor in USC’s departments of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, and Biological Sciences at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences—has been elected as a new member of the National Academy of Sciences in honor of his …

Long Cai

The Broad Foundation brings together stem cell scientists, engineers and physicians at USC and beyond

Developing new stem cell therapies requires more than a solo biologist having a eureka moment alone in the lab. Real progress relies on collaborations between biologists, engineers and physicians. That’s why The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has continued its support of two strategic initiatives: innovation awards bringing together teams of engineers and scientists from …

Oliver Bell

Design redundancy is in our DNA

Design redundancy is not only an invention of engineers for building machines, but also a principle of nature for designing organisms. This principle is at play in the regulation of the genes responsible for directing stem cells to multiply themselves in the developing mouse embryo, as described in a new study in Science Advances.

hyperspectral fish

From detecting lung cancer to spotting counterfeit money, this new imaging technology could have countless uses

USC scientists have developed a new tool to peer more deeply and clearly into living things, a visual advantage that saves time and helps advance medical cures. It’s the sort of foundational science that can be used to develop better diagnostics and treatments, including detecting lung cancer or damage from pollutants. The technology is versatile …

Stem cell scientists reveal key differences in male, female kidney

USC researchers have completed a detailed deconstruction of the kidney, revealing for the first time an intimate portrait of sexual differences and more in the organ. The findings could benefit 37 million Americans suffering from kidney disease by helping to distinguish how it affects men and women differently. They can help doctors pinpoint genes linked …

Breakthrough in testosterone-producing cells could lead to treatment for “low T”

USC researchers have successfully grown human, testosterone-producing cells in the lab, paving the way to someday treat low testosterone with personalized replacement cells. In Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists describe how they transformed stem cells into functioning Leydig cells — the cells in the testes that produce the male sex hormone. “Our …

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