Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance
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Sergiu P. Pasca
Kenneth T. Norris, Jr. Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Bonnie Uytengsu and Family Director of the Stanford Brain Organogenesis Program
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsA critical challenge in understanding the intricate programs underlying development, assembly and dysfunction of the human brain is the lack of direct access to intact, functioning human brain tissue for detailed investigation by imaging, recording, and stimulation.
To address this, we are developing bottom-up approaches to generate and assemble, from multi-cellular components, human neural circuits in vitro and in vivo.
We introduced the use of instructive signals for deriving from human pluripotent stem cells self-organizing 3D cellular structures named brain region-specific spheroids/organoids. We demonstrated that these cultures, such as the ones resembling the cerebral cortex, can be reliably derived across many lines and experiments, contain synaptically connected neurons and non-reactive astrocytes, and can be used to gain mechanistic insights into genetic and environmental brain disorders. Moreover, when maintained as long-term cultures, they recapitulate an intrinsic program of maturation that progresses towards postnatal stages.
We also pioneered a modular system to integrate 3D brain region-specific organoids and study human neuronal migration and neural circuit formation in functional preparations that we named assembloids. We have actively applied these models in combination with studies in long-term ex vivo brain preparations to acquire a deeper understanding of human physiology, evolution and disease mechanisms.
We have carved a unique research program that combines rigorous in vivo and in vitro neuroscience, stem cell and molecular biology approaches to construct and deconstruct previously inaccessible stages of human brain development and function in health and disease.
We believe science is a community effort, and accordingly, we have been advancing the field by broadly and openly sharing our technologies with numerous laboratories around the world and organizing the primary research conference and the training courses in the area of cellular models of the human brain.
Associate Professor of Medicine (Cardiovascular Medicine)
BioDr. Marco Perez's research goal is to better understand the fundamental causes of cardiovascular disease through the study of genetics and epidemiology. His group studies the genetic variations and environmental exposures that are associated with conditions such as atrial fibrillation and heart failure. He has led the studies of atrial fibrillation in Women's Health Initiative, one of the largest nation-wide population-based cohorts. He is currently conducting a large study monitoring for silent or asymptomatic atrial fibrillation in women from the WHI randomized to exercise intervention, and was co-PI of the Apple Heart Study, a clinical trial that validated the ability of a smartwatch to detect atrial fibrillation. He is now PI of the Clinical Coordinating Center at Stanford for the REACT-AF which is a clinical trial to evaluate efficacy and safety of a "pill-in-the pocket" approach to anticoagulation for AF using a smartwatch. He is interested in understanding the paradox that atrial fibrillation is less common in African Americans and Hispanics, despite a greater burden of risk factors such as hypertension. As director of the Stanford Inherited Arrhythmia Clinic, he evaluates families with rare inherited arrhythmias associated with sudden death such as Long QT and Brugada Syndromes and explores their links with novel genes. He also studies the genetic causes of very early onset atrial fibrillation. He also studies how best to use the electrocardiogram and imaging modalities using Machine Learning techniques to identify patients at risk for cardiovascular disease. Dr. Perez receives funding from the NIH/NHLBI, Apple Inc., Janssen and the Colson Foundation.
Emma Pfeiffer Merner Professor of Medical Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe major focus of our research is to understand the molecular basis of inherited Parkinson's Disease (PD). We focus on the LRRK2 kinase that is inappropriately activated in PD and how it phosphorylates Rab GTPases, blocking the formation of primary cilia in specific regions of the brain. The absence of primary cilia renders cells unable to carry out Hedgehog signaling that is critical for neuroprotective pathways that sustain dopamine neurons.
Jennifer Pien MD
Clinical Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
BioJennifer H. Pien is a Clinical Associate Professor and Stanford Medical Humanities & Arts faculty through the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University. She is the Director of The Pegasus Physician Writers, Founder of The Pegasus Review, and is on the faculty editorial team for the Oxford Review of Books x Stanford collaboration. She also serves on the Advisory Board for The Bellevue Literary Press and the Stanford School of Medicine Medical Humanities Fellowship. In addition to her work in Medical Humanities, her interests include advocacy for adults with developmental disabilities where she cofounded Puente Clinic through the San Mateo County Medical System, an innovative dev. disabilities subspecialty clinic. She serves on the Regional Advisory Committee to the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities. Currently, her clinical focus is on physician well-being through the WellConnect team.
Albert Ray Lang Professor of Psychology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsOur lab uses the tools of cognitive neuroscience to understand how decision making, executive control, and learning and memory are implemented in the human brain. We also develop neuroinformatics tools and resources to help researchers make better sense of data.
Clinical Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
BioDr. Lisa Post, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression and adjustment disorders in adults. She has been a practicing clinician at Stanford Hospital and Clinics since 1993. Since 2000, she has been Director of a clinical program for Stanford Varsity Athletes and for nine years has been the Team Clinician for the San Francisco 49ers. Her primary interest are in the treatment of high performing individuals and in stress management.
Associate Professor of Bioengineering, Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and Associate Professor, by courtesy, of Oceans and of Biology
BioWe use interdisciplinary approaches including theory and experiments to understand how computation is embodied in biological matter. Examples include cognition in single cell protists and morphological computing in animals with no neurons and origins of complex behavior in multi-cellular systems. Broadly, we invent new tools for studying non-model organisms with significant focus on life in the ocean - addressing fundamental questions such as how do cells sense pressure or gravity? Finally, we are dedicated towards inventing and distributing “frugal science” tools to democratize access to science (previous inventions used worldwide: Foldscope, Abuzz), diagnostics of deadly diseases like malaria and convening global citizen science communities to tackle planetary scale environmental challenges such as mosquito surveillance or plankton surveillance by citizen sailors mapping the ocean in the age of Anthropocene.
Carla Pugh, MD, PhD
Thomas Krummel Professor
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe Technology Enabled Clinical Improvement (T.E.C.I.) Center is a multidisciplinary team of researchers dedicated to the design and implementation of advanced engineering technologies that facilitate data acquisition relating to clinical performance.