Stem cells have the unique ability to self-renew and differentiate. They are generally classified into two main types, namely pluripotent stem cells (embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells or iPSCs) and tissue stem cells.

Pluripotent stem cells have the potential to differentiate into any cell type in the body, whereas tissue stem cells can only generate the differentiated cell types restricted to the specific tissue. In developing embryos and adults, stem cells can be discovered in tissues such as the brain, muscle, eye, and placenta.

Many faculty members from Division of Life Science work with pluripotent and tissue stem cells as models for human development and disease, as well as cell-based therapeutics. By better understanding how stem cells are controlled and how diseases are developed in a lab environment, we hope to find new ways to treat patients. Our researchers are investigating the role of embryonic, fetal, and adult tissue stem cells in a wide range of conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, aging, diabetes, glaucoma, and pregnancy complications. Each group focuses on a highly specific area of research, including:

  • the properties of stem cells and their niches

  • in vitro and in vivo modulation of stem cell self-renewal and differentiation

  • the role of stem cells in various pathological conditions

  • the mechanisms underlying tissue degeneration and repair

  • the development of bioengineered organs and tissues

Major Research Project
Stem Cell-niche Interactions in Tissue Maintenance and Engineering
Life Science

In this TRS project, we propose to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying stem cell maintenance, differentiation and aging in model organisms such as Drosophila, zebrafish and mice.

Major Research Project
A Stem Cell Approach to Dissect the Molecular Basis of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Nancy Yuk-Yu IP Life Science

The project aims to address the urgent need for new and innovative therapies for the treatment of age-related neurodegenerative disorders, including the highly prevalent Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Major Research Project
Molecular Regulation of Quiescence and Early Activation in Muscle Stem Cells
Zhenguo WU Life Science

Using different mouse models we generated that display defects in early activation of adult MuSC, we propose to perform comprehensive and systematic molecular, cellular, and mouse-based studies in order to understand how adult QSCs are regulated to become cycling myoblasts upon muscle injury.

Other Major Research Areas