Qiao Zhou, Ph.D. - Investigator Profile
Our laboratory is broadly interested in tissue regeneration and developing regenerative strategies to repair adult organs damaged in disease and injury.
With the exception of a few organ systems such as the liver, blood, and surface epithelium, adult mammals, including humans, possess only limited regenerative capacity. The regenerative response is mainly mediated by progenitors and stem cells that reside in some, but not all, adult organs. Currently, there are no effective means to regenerate many critical cell types in the body or to recreate complex structures that are composed of multiple cell types. To overcome these limitations, our laboratory focuses on developing novel regenerative strategies based on cellular reprogramming whereby exiting adult cells are converted into other cell types, including progenitors and tissue stem cells, in order to repair or rebuild adult organs.
We currently employ two major model systems. The first is the reprogramming of diverse cell types into insulin secreting beta cells, the key cell type in the disease Diabetes. The second model focuses on the central nervous system, where we aim to regenerate glial cells, neurons, and neural stem cells.
To formulate reprogramming strategies, we are particularly interested in understanding the molecular machinery that maintains the stable state of adult cells. This molecular machinery is likely unique for each cell type and consists of a network of extracelluar, intracellular, and epigenetic factors. We use this knowledge to instructively manipulate and reprogram adult cell fate for tissue regeneration. In addition, we are investigating the link between the cellular maintenance programs and cancer formation. A wide variety of molecular, cellular, and genetic techniques are employed in our studies. Our ultimate aim is to translate our basic research efforts into clinically relevant therapeutic strategies.
regeneration, beta cells, in vivo reprogramming, diabetes