The human body is a collection of numerous cells types. Each cell type is tasked with performing a set of unique and highly specialized functions. Our laboratory and others have shown that cells of adult organs can be instructively reprogrammed to assume new identities and perform new functions.
This amazing transformation holds tremendous value for both fundamental biological understanding and regenerative medicine. The ability to convert one cell to another provides powerful research tools to study the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms that govern cell identity and function in vivo.
Cells that gained new functions through reprogramming can be applied to treat injuries and degenerative diseases in situ. We are currently focused on two major models: the reprogramming of diverse endodermal cell types into insulin-secreting beta cells, and the conversion of adult brain glial cells into a more juvenile form that strongly supports neuronal regeneration. We collaborate extensively with bioengineers and clinicians to develop therapeutic strategies for diabetes, spinal cord injury, and stroke.