Center for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine

Phone 713.500.3429; Fax 713.500.2424

About the Center

A major focus of contemporary medicine is the development of effective therapies for the restoration of human tissues and organs lost to diseases and trauma. Regenerative Medicine is a rapidly emerging field that stands at the intersection of a variety of rapidly developing scientific disciplines: stem cell biology, tissue engineering, biomaterials, molecular biology, immunology and transplantation biology and clinical research. Implicit in the successful design, implementation and application of regenerative medicine/tissue engineering approaches to the repair of a damaged tissue or organ is the reliance on the unique biological properties of stem cells.

The mission statement of the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at the IMM is: To study the fundamental properties of stem cells and to translate their unique biological properties into novel cellular therapies for graft engineering and tissue regeneration for currently intractable disorders. While it is therefore implicit that any such program would span basic-translational-clinical research, it is essential that such an endeavour is ultimately underpinned by excellence in fundamental stem cell research. The Director of the Center, Dr. Brian R. Davis is currently in the process of recruiting a multidisciplinary faculty with the appropriate breadth of expertise, innovation and scientific rigor in the discipline of stem cell biology with the dual intention to promote the excellence and innovation of research within the Center and secondly to ensure the quality and appropriateness of stem cell based translational research initiatives emanating from the Center. In addition, the Center is also envisioned as an educational resource, which in the medium to long-term will be the basis for the development of an academic program in stem cell biology on campus. Moreover, by interfacing effectively with other programs and institutions within the UTHSC, the Center will also act as a focus to stimulate the development and implementation of novel cellular therapies for a range of diseases and disorders.

Some of the current areas of research in the Center are highlighted below:

Brian R. Davis, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Medicine & Director, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

Annie and Bob Graham Distinguished Chair in Stem Cell Biology
Ph.D. ~ California Institute of Technology / Pasadena, California

  • Dr. Davis’ laboratory is focused on genetic correction of inherited mutations with the goal of deriving cells appropriate for transplantation. Current studies focus on the development of therapies for lung disorders (cystic fibrosis and surfactant protein B deficiency) and blood disorders (sickle cell anemia and Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome).

Qi Lin Cao, M.D.
Associate Professor, The Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery & Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

M.D.~ Hunan Medical University / Hunan, China

  • Dr. Cao’s research is focused on studying the therapeutic potential and long-term safety of neural stem cells for spinal cord injury and stroke repair. The long-term goal is to develop novel stem cell-based therapies for spinal cord injury, stroke and other neurological diseases.

Charles S. Cox, Jr., M.D.
Professor, Department of Pediatric Surgery & Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

M.D.~ The University of Texas Medical Branch / Galveston, Texas

  • Dr. Cox is the Children's Fund, Inc. Distinguished Professor of Pediatric Surgery and directs the Pediatric Surgical Translational Laboratories and Pediatric Program in Regenerative Medicine at UTHealth Medical School. He directs the Pediatric Trauma Program at the UTHealth Medical School/Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center.

Radbod Darabi, M.D., Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Stem Cell Biology, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

M.D. ~  Zahedan University of Medical Sciences / Zahedan, Iran
Ph.D. ~  Tehran (Iran) University of Medical Sciences / Tehran, Iran

  • Dr. Darabi's laboratory is focused on study of therapeutic potential of pluripotent stem cells for skeletal and cardiac muscle regeneration. Directed differentiation of stem cells into various tissue progenitors is another area of his research interests.

Sarah Xuelian Huang, MB.B.S., Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Stem Cell Biology, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

MB.B.S.~Xi’an Jiaotong University College of Medicine / Xi’an, China 
Ph.D.~ Columbia University / New York, New York

  • Dr. Huang’s laboratory is interested in applying human pluripotent stem cells to study the basic mechanisms of cell fate specification in the context of both normal and pathological development of the lung. The long-term goal is translation of the acquired knowledge into prevention and treatment of currently not curable lung diseases.

Dong H. Kim, M.D.
Professor, Chair, The Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery & Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

M.D.~ The University of California, San Francisco / San Francisco, California

  • As Director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute (MNI) since October 2007, Dr. Kim leads the clinical neuroscience efforts for the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and UTHealth. Dr. Kim is noted for his research into the origin, development and treatment of brain aneurysms. He leads basic science efforts, such as identifying the genes that lead to an inherited risk for aneurysms and genetic changes in brain tumors, and translational projects that directly affect clinical practice.

Ying Liu, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, The Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery & Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

M.D.- Peking  University Health Science Center / Beijing, China
Ph.D.- University of Utah / Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Dr. Liu is focused on dissecting the developmental pathways and the corresponding pathogenesis in neural cells, specifically for spinal cord injury, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases. Her long-term goal is to identify therapeutic targets for the treatment of central nervous system injury and neurodegenerative diseases.

Nami McCarty, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

Ph.D.- Purdue University / West Lafayette, Indiana

  • The main focus of Dr. McCarty’s laboratory is to understand cellular and molecular mechanisms of stem cell fate determination and development in hematological malignancies. Developing targeted therapies inhibiting development of the stem-like cells in blood cancers is a major goal in her lab.

Naoki Nakayama, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

Ph.D.- University of Tokyo / Tokyo, Japan

  • Dr. Nakayama’s research has been focused on elucidating signaling events and cellular pathways that direct the differentiation of stem cells to cartilage, bone and blood. This work offers the potential for significant therapeutic advances in treatment of diseases such as osteoarthritis.

Laura A. Smith Callahan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

Ph.D.- University of Michigan / Ann Arbor, Michigan

  • Dr. Smith Callahan’s laboratory is focused on the development of artificial extracellular matrices to support the differentiation and integration of cells transplanted for the treatment of traumatic brain, spinal cord and cartilage injuries. Current studies focus on the optimization of bioactive signaling moiety concentration, Young’s modulus and polymer composition of the matrices to facilitate neuron, oligodendrocyte and chondrocyte survival and function.

Pamela L. Wenzel, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatric Surgery & Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

PhD- The Ohio State University / Columbus, Ohio

  • Dr. Wenzel’s research is focused on studying various extrinsic factors, including biomechanical force, soluble molecules, and pharmacological compounds that enable early blood cells to contribute to the adult blood system. She is now applying these insights to increase the ability of various stem cell types to facilitate repair in traumatic brain injury.

Jiaqian Wu, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor, The Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery & Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

PhD- Baylor College of Medicine / Houston, Texas

  • Dr. Wu’s laboratory combines stem cell biology and system-based approaches involving functional genomics and next-generation sequencing technologies to unravel gene transcription and regulatory mechanisms governing neural differentiation. Her goal is to identify key regulators during this process as therapeutic targets and develop safe treatment for spinal cord injury and neurological diseases.

Wa Xian, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Molecular Medicine, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

PhD- The University of Texas, M. D. Anderson / Houston, Texas

  • Dr. Xian’s laboratory is focused on building a broad platform of tissue-specific, adult stem cells for modeling human disease, drug discovery, and regenerative medicine.  In particular, she has developed innovative technologies that capture, for the first time, the most immature or “ground state” stem cells of human columnar epithelia including the gastrointestinal tract, liver, pancreas, and kidney.

Momoko Yoshimoto, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine

MD- Mie University School of Medicine / Tsu, Japan 
PhD- Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine / Kyoto, Japan

  • Dr. Yoshimoto’s lab is focusing on the development of the innate-like B-1 lymphoid cells and hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) in the mouse embryo. Prior to the emergence of the first HSC, various types of hematopoietic progenitors are produced from hemogenic endothelial cells in an HSC-independent manner. Dr. Yoshimoto’s lab is trying to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that mature the hematopoietic potential of hemogenic endothelial cells, utilizing lineage tracing mouse model, transplantation assays, and RNA-sequencing studies.