HSU CIRM Scholars spend 12 months doing intensive research in a host laboratory at Stanford University, UC Davis or UCSF.

Learn about the work of  Current and Past Scholars

We are very proud of the fact that more than 90% of HSU Bridges alumni have been accepted to highly competitive biomedical graduate or medical professional programs or found gainful employment in the field.  Click here to learn about some of the accomplishments of our Alumni!

Current Scholars

2016-2017 HSU-CIRM Scholars

2016-2017 Host Labs

Neha Arora - "Understanding the role of cis-regulatory elements at SOX9 locus in congenital disorders"
Joanna Wysocka, Ph.D., Stanford University

Deletions and translocation in non-coding DNA regions around Sox9 gene are associated with craniofacial disorders. This project will assess changes in Sox9 gene expression via enhancers in the breakpoint regions around Sox9 during neural crest differentiation. Cranial neural crest cells (cNCC) will be differentiated in-vitro from human embryonic stem cells (hESC). Preliminary data has shown enhancer-promoter interactions, luciferase reporter assays and CRISPR will be used to downregulate enhancers and analyze Sox9 transcriptional activity. These enhancers' activity will also be dampened in Sertoli cancer cells to compare activity of Sox9 to that of cNCC. Extensive training will be provided in Illumina-NGS, ChIP sequencing, CRISPR gene editing and hESC culture by Hannah K. Long.

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Kyle Herout - “Characterization and Modification of Exosomes for Neural Protection and Cell Rescue"
Aijun Wang, M.D., University of California Davis

The overall goal of my lab is to work on optimizing a stem cell therapy to add onto the current in-utero surgical treatment of spina bifida. My lab primarily focusses on using human placental stem cells for our treatments. Starting out, I will be tasked with comparing exosome secretion between placental stem cells from different terms, as well as to bone marrow stem cells. This will allow us to determine if there is an optimal stage of development for harvesting placental stem cells, and to determine if placental cells have a greater neuroprotective effect than bone marrow stem cells. To do this, I will be using flow cytometry, ELISA and Proteome analysis, Western Blotting, and Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy. To assess for neuroprotective effect, cells will be examined both in-vitro and in-vivo in either an ovine or fetal ovine model.

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Cameron Schumacher - "Role of Spermine Synthase (SMS) in Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Bone Formation "
Fernando Fierro, Ph.D., University of California Davis

The project will be centered around determining gene expression and glycosylation levels of human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), prior to cell culture, in an attempt to better understand differentiation,proliferation, and self-renewal as well as optimizing their use for potential therapeutic applications including: bone repair, non-healing ulcers, and critical limb ischemias. Cells derived from human bone marrow will be selectively isolated and used for RNAseq (deep sequencing), glycomics (mass spectrometry) and in vivo studies (in immune deficient NSG mice), in order to help discover the cellular pathways responsible for their distinct function. Normally, MSC are isolated by adhesion to plastic flasks and expansion ex vivo. We aim to better understand the original cells, prior to any manipulation, in order to determine differences for further optimizing their selection, amplification, and function both in vitro and in vivo.

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Jessica Sepulveda - "Tissue Homeostasis: Extracellular Matrix Impact on Cardiac Function "
Todd McDevitt, Ph.D., Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, UCSF

Two dimensional cell cultures have provided many insights regarding cardiac disease. However, 3D tissue models are superior due to their ability to aggregate and form cell-matrix interactions similarly to in vivo tissues [1-4]. For this project we aim to (1) bioengineer cardiac microtissues from human-iPSCs (hiPSCs), (2) direct differentiation of independent cell populations (e.g. cardiomyocytes, epithelial cells, fibroblasts, and endothethial cells), (3) merge these cell populations into heterogeneous microtissues, and (4) examine their collective ability to promote cardiac tissue maturation. Even though these components of bioengineering cardiac tissues are currently being redefined and have shown success [1-5]; we want to improve the quality of bioengineered cardiac tissues. To do this we will optimize the microenvironment in our 3D cell cultures with the aim to enhance maturation of cardiomyocytes.

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Kahlil Vaughan - "Establishment of Crispr KO iPSC Lines and iPSCs from PBMCs of HHT1 & HHT2 Patients for the Study of Disease Pathology"
Rosemary Akhurst, Ph.D., Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Research Institute, UCSF

Dr. Akhurst's general research area has to do with the TGF-Beta signaling pathway, which is active in many cellular processes. Most notably in the control of cellular proliferation and differentiation, which is why it has been implicated in a variety of cancers and other diseases. HHT, hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia is one of these diseases, it has been described as a disease of excessive angiogenesis. One of the pathways in the TGFB super-family is responsible for an increase in proliferation in endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) and two of the receptors in this pathway, endoglin and alk1, are frequently found to be mutated in HHT patients. Other mutations in these patients have revealed modifiers of these pathways, as is shown by altered phenotypes in disease manifestation.

Pursuant with these features, we will be culturing EPCs from HHT as well as from non-HHT genotypes for characterization. My project will also include genotyping of HHT patient EPCs to identify other potential modifiers of the TGFB path/therapeutic targets. I will also attempt to generate iPSCs from HHT patient blood samples

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