The Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB) welcomes four assistant professors to its faculty. Recruitment of these new faculty furthers the department’s academic mission to transform medicine by illuminating the basis of human health and disease, and will strengthen collaborations between HSCRB scientists and researchers in other departments and institutions across the Boston biomedical ecosystem.
“We are delighted to welcome our four new faculty members to HSCRB, where they will advance our dual research and teaching mission. These scholars will contribute to our efforts to understand human health and disease, by bringing to our community a broad range of expertise in developmental and regenerative biology, genomics, and immunology,” said Paola Arlotta, Ph.D., Chair of HSCRB.
“HSCRB is uniquely positioned as a cross-school department of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Harvard Medical School. Our joint governance and affiliations offer unparalleled opportunities for collaboration across disciplines, and the connections of our new faculty with multiple Boston-area institutions will further strengthen these ties within our community,” said Amy Wagers, Ph.D., Co-chair of HSCRB.
The following faculty are appointed assistant professors of stem cell and regenerative biology:
Fei Chen, Ph.D. uses genomics and biotechnology approaches to study brain development, neurological diseases, and other biological processes. He is a co-inventor of expansion microscopy, a technique that enlarges cell components so that they can be distinguished using ordinary light microscopes. His lab developed Slide-seq, a technique that combines RNA sequencing with DNA barcoding to generate detailed, three-dimensional maps of tissues — revealing what cell types are present, where they are located, and what they are doing. He also creates tools to track individual cells over time, by recording cellular events as changes in DNA or RNA.
In addition to joining HSCRB, Chen is appointed a core member at the Broad Institute, where he has worked as a Schmidt Fellow since 2017. He received a B.S. in electrical engineering in 2011 from the California Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in bioengineering in 2017 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Ryan Flynn, M.D., Ph.D. studies the role of RNA biology in human disease. He focuses on RNA glycosylation, a process where sugar polymers are attached to RNA, and how it contributes to biological mechanisms.
In addition to his HSCRB appointment, Flynn is joining the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children’s Hospital as a principal investigator. He received a B.S. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010. At Stanford University, he received a Ph.D. in cancer biology in 2015 and an M.D. in 2017. Since then, he has been a Damon Runyon postdoctoral fellow in the Carolyn Bertozzi laboratory at Stanford University.
Ruth Franklin, Ph.D. studies macrophages and the roles that these immune cells play at the tissue level. She studies how macrophages contribute to the normal functioning of tissues, as well as what goes wrong during inflammatory disease. She also investigates communication between macrophages and other cells in the tissue.
Franklin will establish the first HSCRB laboratory located on the Harvard Medical School’s Longwood campus. She received a B.A. in biology in 2006 from Bowdoin College, and a Ph.D. in immunology and microbial pathogenesis in 2014 from Cornell University. Since then, she has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Ruslan Medzhitov laboratory at Yale University.
Kara McKinley, Ph.D. uses stem cell-derived organoids and live imaging techniques to study tissue renewal and regeneration. Focusing on the female reproductive system, she will investigate the regenerative processes of the uterus, as well as the earliest stages of embryo implantation. This work will further our fundamental understanding of human developmental biology and inform potential treatments for reproductive pathologies.
McKinley received a B.A. in molecular biology in 2010 from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in biology in 2016 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, she has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Ron Vale laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco.