USC Stem Cell scientists are advancing our understanding of how the body develops, maintains and repairs the brain, nerves and senses. They are using stem cells to find new regenerative therapies for conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, neurodegenerative diseases, brain tumors, hearing loss and vision loss.


  • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. An estimated 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, causes progressive paralysis and usually results in fatal respiratory failure within three to five years of diagnosis.
  • Brain tumors are the most common cancer and leading cause of cancer-related death in children fourteen years and younger.
  • Twenty percent of Americans—or 48 million people—report some degree of hearing loss.
  • More than 20 million Americans report some degree of vision loss.


Brain, Nerves and Senses News

Neural stem cells derived from patients with ALS or frontotemporal dementia (Image by Eric Hendricks/Ichida Lab)

ALS and frontotemporal dementia show origins in utero, according to evidence from mice and patient-derived stem cells

Even though neurodegenerative diseases often strike in middle age or later, patients could have structural differences in their brains that arise before birth. In a new study in Cell Reports, USC Stem …

Rows of sensory hearing cells (green) next to supporting cells (red) in the inner ear of a mouse (Image by John Duc Nguyen and Juan Llamas/Segil Lab)

USC Stem Cell mouse studies tune into hearing regeneration

A deafened adult cannot recover the ability to hear, because the sensory hearing cells of the inner ear don’t regenerate after damage. In two new studies, partially funded by the National Institutes …

Louise Menendez

USC Stem Cell faculty member Louise Menendez helps students realize their pluri-potential

Louise Menendez, the newest assistant professor in USC’s Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, credits her mother as her first role model for career success. Both of Menendez’s parents work …

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Brain, Nerves and Senses Videos

Dr. Justin Ichida’s research focuses on how genetic and environmental factors contribute to human neurodegenerative disease. His laboratory uses cellular reprogramming and stem cell technology to build patient-specific in vitro models of neurodegenerative disease, enabling the screening of drug-like compounds in search of potential therapeutics. To learn more, visit
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