HGINJ Stem Cell Program Announces Two Pilot Service Awards

2015 Awards Focus on Tuberous Sclerosis and Hearing Research

May 20, 2015—The HGINJ Stem Cell Program has awarded its 2015 Pilot Service Awards to Professors Gabriella D'Arcangelo and Kelvin Kwan, both of the Department of Cell Biology & Neuroscience.  These awards provide key services to support the preparation of NIH grant applications by collecting key preliminary results to justify the research proposal. 

D’Arcangelo has prepared induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from patients with Tuberous sclerosis.  This disorder is caused by mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2 genes and is associated with tumor susceptibility, brain malformations, and neurological manifestations including epilepsy and autism.  Several cellular mechanisms are affected by loss of TSC genes but little is known about the developmental changes in brain causing epilepsy and autism.  Dr. D’Arcangelo and her colleagues will identify genes affected by loss of TSC2 function in neural precursor cells using RNA sequencing technology. 

Kwan’s project will study the role of Chd4 in spiral ganglion neuron differentiation.  Spiral ganglion cells lie in the cochlea and help to transduce sound into the auditory system.  When these neurons are lost, hearing loss occurs and there is no available treatment to restore this function.  Dr. Kwan has developed an “otic stem cell” that recapitulates the development of spiral ganglion neurons in hope of restoring function through a regenerative medicine approach.  In this study, Dr. Kwan and his colleagues will identify candidate transcription factors, including Chd4, that are required for this process using RNA sequencing technology. 

Previous Pilot Service Award recipients include Dr Zhiping Pang of the Child Health Institute of New Jersey and Prof Bonnie Firestein of Cell Biology & Neuroscience.  The HGINJ Stem Cell Program is open to all New Jersey researchers interested in utilizing human stem cells, including embryonic, induced, mesenchymal, and cancer stem cells.