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Rensselaer professor utilizing New York state grant to study adult stem cells
Date:3/9/2011

Troy, N.Y. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Deanna Thompson is utilizing more than $300,000 in New York state funding as part of the state stem cell research program, NYSTEM, to study adult neural stem cells. The NYSTEM program is New York's $600 million publicly funded grant program to advance scientific discovery in the area of stem cells.

Working at the interface of engineering and neuroscience, her research is helping scientists and doctors develop new stem cell therapies and research tools utilizing these important cells. The adult stems cells she is investigating could play an important role in understanding and treating a variety of brain illnesses, from cancer and Alzheimer's to traumatic brain injury and stroke.

"Dr. Thompson is a young, rising star in her field and has come up with a highly innovative approach to direct, cause, and control nerve regeneration through stem cell bioengineering," said Rensselaer Biomedical Engineering leader Deepak Vashishth. "The results of her NYSTEM-funded research will provide unique insight into the stem cell niche and help develop new tools and therapies for regenerative medicine."

Neural stem cells are a specialized type of stem cell that can be found in the adult nervous system. These stem cells have the potential to repair or replace damaged nerve cells. For researchers, the ability to generate new cells or repair damaged nerve cells would be exceptionally helpful to heal a traumatic brain injury following an accident or reverse the cellular death caused by an illness like Parkinson's disease. Thompson's research is working to understand exactly how neural stem cells proliferate or differentiate into new nerve cells in the brain so that ability can be replicated to develop new medical treatments.

In order to control stem cell fate or differentiation, she must first understand the complex environment surrounding the stem cells. Thi
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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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