Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute


Showing 11-20 of 24 Results

  • Roy Pea

    Roy Pea

    Director, H-STAR, David Jacks Professor of Education and Professor, by courtesy, of Computer Science

    Current Research and Scholarly Interestslearning sciences focus on advancing theories, research, tools and social practices of technology-enhanced learning of complex domains

  • Claudia Katharina Petritsch

    Claudia Katharina Petritsch

    Associate Professor (Research) of Neurosurgery

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe study cell fate mechanisms to understand intra-tumoral heterogeneity and overcome therapy resistance and immune suppression in brain tumors.

    Excessive proliferation, apoptotic evasion, and migratory spread are all hallmarks of tumorigenesis. However, these defects fail to explain the incredible heterogeneity and immune suppression observed in malignant brain tumors, two major hurdles to their treatment, which remains mostly palliative. Only once we elucidate the underlying biologic causes for heterogeneity and immune suppression, will we develop better treatment options for brain tumor patients and prevent malignant progression and tumor growth.

    In the healthy brain, neural stem cells generate progenitors, which in turn give rise to differentiating cells that will eventually acquire their final functional state. Cell fate decisions within these hierarchical brain cell lineages are tightly controlled and irreversible: e.g. cells in the state of differentiation will not turn into progenitor cells or stem cells. It is known that brain tumor cells, on the other hand, defy many general principles of neurobiology. This is especially true for malignant glioma cells, which simultaneously express markers of different lineages and states exhibiting incomplete differentiation. Tumor cell hierarchies are poorly understood, providing no explanation for why tumor cells with stem-like, progenitor-like, and differentiated features co-exist and interact with normal brain cells and immune-infiltrating cells within a single tumor entity, and how this heterogeneity relates to the lack of active immune infiltration.

    The Petritsch lab broadly investigates underlying causes for the intra-tumoral heterogeneity and immune suppression in brain tumors from a developmental neurobiology perspective. Defects in cell fate control could explain many key defects present in brain tumors and an understanding of how brain cells control the fate of their progeny may identify novel points of vulnerabilities to target with therapeutics. Of special emphasis, we study the establishment of cell fates within normal hierarchical brain lineages for comparison to the dysregulated cell-fate hierarchies seen in brain tumors. Our lab was the first to demonstrate that normal adult oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) undergo asymmetric divisions to make cell fate decisions, i.e. to generate OPCs as well as differentiating cells each time they divide. Drawing from these data, we investigate whether brain tumors divide along hierarchical lineages and how oncogenic mutations might affect cell fate decisions within these hierarchies. A major line of investigation in our lab focuses on whether defects in asymmetric division lead to aberrant cell fate decisions that cause the paradigm mixed lineage phenotypes and the intra-tumoral heterogeneity present across tumors.
    To study interactions of tumor cells and the immune system, we have developed and utilized transplantable mouse glioma models. We are tasked to facilitate and coordinate the distribution of fresh tissue from the neurosurgery operating room, and have access to fresh brain tissue from patient surgeries, from which we prepare cell culture models for brain tumors and normal progenitors. We complement our work with human cells with studies in genetically engineered mouse models of gliomagenesis to conduct molecular, cellular and bioinformatic analyses

  • Suzanne Pfeffer

    Suzanne Pfeffer

    Emma Pfeiffer Merner Professor in the Medical Sciences

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe major focuses of our research is to understand the molecular basis of inherited Parkinson's Disease (PD) and to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which proteins and cholesterol are transported between specific membrane compartments. 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 culture and specific regions of the brain.

  • Sharon Pitteri

    Sharon Pitteri

    Associate Professor (Research) of Radiology (Cancer Early Detection-Canary Center)

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe Pitteri laboratory is focused on the discovery and validation of proteins that can be used as molecular indicators of risk, diagnosis, progression, and recurrence of cancer. Proteomic technologies, predominantly mass spectrometry, are used to identify proteins in the blood that are differentially regulated and/or post-translationally modified with disease state. Using human plasma samples, tumor tissue, cancer cell lines, and genetically engineered mouse models, the origins of these proteins are being investigated. A major goal of this research is to define novel molecular signatures for breast and ovarian cancers, including particular sub-types of these diseases. This laboratory is also focused on the identification of proteins with expression restricted to the surface of cancer cells which can be used as novel targets for molecular imaging technologies.

  • Giles W Plant

    Giles W Plant

    Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
    On Partial Leave from 01/06/2020 To 01/04/2021

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsOur research focuses on the repair of the injured spinal cord. We investigate the following areas:
    - Spinal cord injury (SCI): Axonal regeneration, myelination and gene therapy
    - Stem cell transplantation (adult, embryonic and iPS)
    - Endogenous stem cell activity after SCI

  • Kilian M Pohl

    Kilian M Pohl

    Associate Professor (Research) of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Public Mental Health and Population Sciences)

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe foundation of the laboratory of Associate Professor Kilian M. Pohl, PhD, is computational science aimed at identifying biomedical phenotypes improving the mechanistic understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. The biomedical phenotypes are discovered by unbiased, machine learning-based searches across biological, neuroimaging, and neuropsychological data. This data-driven discovery currently supports the adolescent brain research of the NIH-funded National Consortium on Alcohol and NeuroDevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA) and the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD), the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the US. The laboratory also investigates brain patterns specific to alcohol use disorder and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) across the adult age range, and have advanced the understanding of a variety of brain diseases including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, glioma, and aging.

  • Russell Poldrack

    Russell Poldrack

    Albert Ray Lang Professor of Psychology and Professor, by courtesy, of Computer Science

    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.

  • Ada Poon

    Ada Poon

    Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsOur research focuses on providing theoretical foundations and engineering platforms for realizing electronics that seamlessly integrate with the body. Such systems will allow precise recording or modulation of physiological activity, for advancing basic scientific discovery and for restoring or augmenting biological functions for clinical applications.

  • Matthew Porteus

    Matthew Porteus

    Professor of Pediatrics (Stem Cell Transplantation)

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsGenome Editing and Population Dynamics for Gene Therapy and Cancer Research