Laboratory of Stem Cell Activation and Regenerative Biology @ USC

The “Holy Grail” of regenerative medicine is to exploit the functional properties of pre-existing or transplanted stem cells to replace lost or damaged tissues and organs in humans. However, we will never succeed in this quest until we unlock the mystery of how stem cells are turned on (activated) to rebuild tissues and organs after traumatic injury.

Our laboratory is systematically uncovering the intrinsic molecular driver(s) and extrinsic environmental stimulants of adult stem cell activation and regeneration using skeletal muscle as a model system. We employ state-of-the-art experimental and bioinformatic approaches to study this biological phenomenon at the molecular, cellular, and organ-level in various vertebrate species, spanning the evolutionary continuum from salamanders to mice and humans.

Our long-term goal is to translate our basic science discoveries into effective stem-cell based therapies that restore muscle function to injured athletes, wounded soldiers, the elderly, and patients suffering from degenerative muscular pathologies and cancer.

  • stem cells transplanted and engrafted
    Muscle stem cells transplanted and engrafted (Image by Albert Almada)

  • Pax7+ satellite cells in 7-day regenerated muscle
    Pax7+ muscle stem cells in 7-day regenerated muscle (Image by Albert Almada)

  • Cell surface ADP ribosylation
    Cell surface ADP ribosylation on 3-day cultured muscle stem cells (Image by Albert Almada)