Main Research Interests
Neural stem cells: Stem cells have been demonstrated to persist from the developing embryo into adulthood in numerous tissues such as blood, skin and intestine. In spite of their common function to replenish endogenous cells lost by injury or general turnover, they display quite different properties with regards to proliferation kinetics, ability to grow in culture, and the expression of cell surface markers. Yet, two common properties are generally agreed to be a reasonable working definition for stem cell analysis. The first property is the ability to self renew, meaning that a stem cell can divide and give rise to another stem cell with identical properties. The second common property defining a stem cell is multipotency, ie. the ability to produce progeny that differentiates into all cell types found within a given tissue. Neural stem cells attract considerable attention because of their properties as "microdevelopmental systems", with the prospect of studying fundamental processes such as cell fate decision and the differentiation process. Recently, it has been suggested that cancers are hierarchically organized similar to normal tissues with cells displaying stem cell properties as the principal contributors to the disease.
Our main interest are general regulatory mechanisms of stem cell functions, particularly in the context of brain injuries. Parallel work aims to apply our understanding of stem cell biology to cancer biology and the possible role of stem cell functions in cells driving cancer growth.