Thomas Jefferson University Research Magazine



Bioscientists' ability to create induced pluripotent stem cells—which can be differentiated into many kinds of cells has opened new pathways for research and treatment of many medical conditions. One of the most notable areas of advancement by stem cell researchers at Jefferson is in treatment for conditions affecting the central nervous system.

For more than 20 years, Lorraine Iacovitti, PhD, professor of neuroscience, neurology and neurological surgery, has been making major research contributions in stem cell biology and the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to pursue therapies for stroke and neurodegenerative disease. Her breakthrough discovery for prompting stem cells to differentiate into dopamine neurons has overcome a major obstacle to using iPSCs therapeutically. More recently, in studying an animal model of stroke, she discovered the existence of stem cell niches in the brain, which means that new cells can be created throughout the adult brain. That work also showed a dramatic surge in stem cell proliferation and differentiation due to molecular and cellular changes in the blood-brain-barrier after stroke. Her lab is now pursuing opportunities to leverage these changes to deliver stem cell therapeutics.