Senator Lloyd and B.A. Bentsen Center for Stroke Research

 Funded Investigators

Jaroslaw Aronowski, Ph.D., Professor
"Novel Cell Therapy for Treatment of Hemorrhagic Stroke via Improving Hematoma Clearance with Cell Therapy"

  • Clearance of toxic blood from brain matter after hemorrhagic stroke is essential to allow for improved neurological recovery. Dr. Aronowski’s Bentsen Stroke Center funded project focuses on pre-clinical studies, testing whether the body’s own scavenging cells (microglia/macrophages),that have been genetically or pharmacologically modified to act as more efficient scavengers, can be used to improve blood removal from brain after hemorrhagic stroke. This approach is expected to reduce brain damage inflicted by the toxic blood and improve post-stroke recovery.

Charles S. Cox, Jr., M.D., Professor
"Amniotic Fluid Derived MSCs for Neurological Injury Associated with Repair of Congenital Heart Disease"

  • Dr. Cox's Bensten Stroke Center project uses amniotic fluid derived mesenchymal stromal cells to treat the neurological injury associated with single ventricle physiology of patients with severe congenital heart disease that requires cardiopulmonary bypass in the conduct of corrective/palliative surgery.  As a part of this program, a working cell bank of AFMSCs has been created in conjunction with the Texas Fetal Center and the Griffin Stem Cell Research Laboratory which is a cGMP, FDA Registered Cell Production Facility located in the BBSB on the South Campus of UTHealth.

Pramod Dash, PhD., Professor
"Multipotent Adult Progenitor Cells (MAPCs) and Inflammation"

  • Research in Dr. Dash's laboratory is focused on developing treatments to improve the function of the injured brain. In order to achieve this, his lab examines the cellular and molecular mechanisms that are triggered by brain injury which contribute to cognitive impairments.  Guided by these changes, we develop mechanism-based treatment strategies using pharmacological agents, molecular techniques and adult stem cells to to reduce injury-induced brain pathologies and cognitive dysfunctions.  As a part of the Bentsen Stroke Research program, we will examine the molecular mechanism by which intravenously administered adult stem cells can help limit brain damage.

Ying Liu, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Jiaqian Wu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
"Identification of Therapeutic Targets to Increase Neuronal Differentiation Efficiency of hiPSC-derived NCSs in Treating Stroke"

  • Dr. Liu and Wu's Bentsen Stroke Center funded project is focused on investigation of the gene expression and the regulatory mechanisms that distinguish human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neural stem cells (NSCs) and hiPSC-derived neuronal restricted progenitors (NRPs). The identification of these differences is essential for understanding the molecular mechanism of neuronal differentiation of hiPSC-NSCs and finding novel therapeutic targets to enhance neuron differentiation efficiency of hiPSC-NSCs in treating stroke.

Scott D. Olson,Ph.D., Assistant Professor
"MSCs for the Prevention and Attenuation of SCI-related Neuropathic Pain"

  • Dr. Olson’s research interests are focused upon utilizing cellular therapies and regenerative medicine, particularly adult bone marrow-derived multipotent stromal cells (MSC), to treat neurological injuries. MSC have shown promise in treating a number of conditions, including spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. Mechanistically, it appears that MSC leverage the host immune system to decrease inflammatory injuries following trauma, an effect they believe will be useful in both preventing and treating neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury. In this project, he will use a short-term (28 day) and a very long term (7 months) animal model to model real world treatment scenarios.

Sean Savitz, M.D., Professor
"Biological Targets of Stem Cell Therapy for Stroke Recovery"

  • Dr. Savitz' regenerative program is testing some of the first cell therapies in patients with acute stroke.  In his Bentsen Project, his team is identifying potential biological targets of stem cell therapies in stroke patients. They are performing neuroimaging studies to assess how stem cells may reduce brain damage are modulate the immune system after stroke. In addition, the team is also testing new types of stem cell therapies that may have longer therapeutic time windows for subacute to chronic stroke.

Laura A. Smith Callahan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
"Advanced Artificial Extracellular Matrix for Treatment of Chronic Stroke"

  • Dr. Smith Callahan’s stroke project is focused on fabricating an artificial extracellular matrices containing optimized bioactive signals to assist neural stem cells (NSCs) with migrating into the stroke-caused lesion site and enable the formation of new synaptic connections. The extracellular matrix is an integral part of neural development and maturation. Since it is significantly injured after stroke, artificial extracellular matrices can help promote the survival, adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation of NSCs. In addition, implantation of artificial extracellular matrices has been shown to lessen secondary injuries after stroke.

Xiurong Zhao, M.D., Associate Professor
"Preconditioning and Efficacy of Cell Therapy"

  • Dr. Zhao’s research goal is to investigate and develop novel therapies for hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes. Her recent research projects mainly focus on the endogenous cleanup mechanism mediated by brain microglia/macrophages (MMΦ) during stroke recovery. Her Bentsen Research project will evaluate how pre-habituation of the therapeutic cells (including stem cells) to a brain-like environment in vitro may enhance these cells’ capability to access stroke-affected brain and consequently promote brain tissue repair.

About the Bentsen Stroke Center

Senator Lloyd and B.A. Bentsen Center for Stroke ResearchThe Senator Lloyd and B.A. Bentsen Center for Stroke Research promotes research and collaboration leading to the prevention of stroke, a medical problem affecting countless individuals and families. With three-quarters of a million new or recurrent strokes each year in the U.S., research is vital to better understand, treat and help people avoid stroke. Researchers involved in the Bentsen Center - in areas including stem cell therapy, genetic predictors of stroke, induced hypothermia/hibernation, molecular imaging of the vascular system, and others - will have tremendous impact on the medical field as the center goes forward.

About Senator Lloyd Bentsen

Serving as a four-term U.S. Senator from Texas and as Secretary of the Treasury, Lloyd Bentsen, Jr. was one of the most respected and influential politicians of the twentieth century.  Senator Bentsen and his wife, B.A., visualized the creation of a significant research center to combat one of this nation's leading causes of death and disability.  Their generosity, and that of many others, led to the establishment of this research program that is now a major component of The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases.

"We are dedicated to establishing

a center that is focused on stroke research

and I believe with all my heart that

our children and grandchildren

will benefit from the transformational work

that will be done here."

- Mrs. B.A. Bentsen

January 22, 2009

Notable Events

January 22, 2009 Dedication of the Senator Lloyd and B.A. Bentsen Center for Stroke Research:

UT Researchers and Bentsen Family Take First Step Toward Stroke Treatment and Prevention


April 10, 2012 Bentsen Family Visit and Luncheon at the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine & Bentsen Stroke Center awards grants for regenerative medicine research


First study to identify common variant influencing susceptibility in U.S.:

Scientists Discover Genetic Variant Tied to Increased Stroke Risk


February 21, 2012 Dr. Mahendra Rao visits Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine:

Rao Named First Director of New Center For Regenerative Medicine at NIH