USC researchers apply brainpower to understanding neural stem cell differentiation

By Cristy Lytal

How do humans and other mammals get so brainy? USC researcher Wange Lu, PhD, and his colleagues shed new light on this question in a paper published in Cell Reports on Oct. 24.

The researchers donned their thinking caps to explain how neural stem and progenitor cells differentiate into neurons and related cells called glia. Neurons transmit information through electrical and chemical signals; glia surround, support and protect neurons in the brain and throughout the nervous system. Glia do everything from holding neurons in place to supplying them with nutrients and oxygen, to protecting them from pathogens.

By studying early mouse embryo neural stem cells in a petri dish, Lu and his colleagues discovered that a protein called SMEK1 promotes the differentiation of neural stem and progenitor cells. At the same time, SMEK1 keeps these cells in check by suppressing their uncontrolled proliferation. Read More »

December 23rd, 2013|Announcements|

Keck School Faculty Council discusses admissions, GME, research funding

By Amy E. Hamaker

The Keck School of Medicine of USC Faculty Council met in a Town Hall meeting on Oct. 15 at the Edmondson Faculty Center on the Health Sciences Campus to discuss medical recruitment, trends and financing in graduate medical education, research trends at the Keck School and faculty recruitment. Read More »

December 23rd, 2013|Announcements|

Ostrow study illustrates how growth factor defect causes tongue malformation

By Beth Newcomb

New findings about how cell signaling directs tongue development may have big clinical applications for healing tongue defects, according to an Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Yang Chai, DDS, PhD, principal investigator of “Non-canonical transforming growth factor beta (TGFb) signaling in cranial neural crest cells causes tongue muscle developmental defects” and director of the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology at the Ostrow School of Dentistry, said the tongue is a unique, highly mobile muscular organ that many view as a “fifth limb.” When the tongue develops improperly or is damaged by injury or disease, it cannot regenerate on its own.

“The current standard of care is to repair the tongue surgically using a skin flap, but it doesn’t have the muscle components to move the tongue and lacks the ability to taste food,” explained Chai. “We want to understand how the tongue is formed and how we can use that knowledge to regenerate the tongue.” Read More »

December 23rd, 2013|Announcements|

Six USC professors named fellows of AAAS

By Robert Perkins

Four scientists from the Keck School of Medicine of USC have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), selected for the honor by their academic peers.

AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific society and the publisher of the journal Science, began the tradition of selecting fellows in 1874. The nonprofit organization has been around since 1848. Read More »

December 19th, 2013|Announcements|

Call to Cure supports USC Norris through art auctions

Art is supporting science thanks to DreamWorks Animation. Once per month for the next year, DreamWorks artists are donating original works for auction on eBay in support of Call to Cure, an organization supporting colorectal cancer research at USC. Read More »

December 13th, 2013|Announcements|