Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Jifang Xiao Rose Hills

Applications of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells (hPSC) Derived Dopaminergic (DA) Neurons in Treating Parkinson's Disease in Rodents

Parkinsons Disease (PD) affects approximately seven to ten million individuals worldwide and is the result of the progressive degeneration of neurons within the brain. The neurological disease is commonly associated with numerous debilitating motor and non-motor features. Recently, transplantation of fetal midbrain tissues to the SN has been investigated to treat PD in humans. However, this therapy is limited by the fetal tissue availability, low reproducibility, and ethical issues. A solution for these limitations is to engineer DA neurons from hPSCs. We recently developed and reported a simple, defined, efficient, scalable, and good manufacturing practice (GMP) compatible 3-dimensional culture system for hPSC expansion and differentiation. Using the previously reported system, we will aim to address questions pertaining to the safety, integration, and efficacy of a PD treatment using hPSC-derived DA neurons in a rodent model. We hope that our findings will help push the field of regenerative medicine closer to the cure for Parkinsons.

Message To Sponsor

I joined the Schaffer lab at the same time that this project was starting 16 months ago. We were going to collect the last bits of data this summer, and the SURF/Rose Hills Foundation has given me the opportunity to stay at Berkeley see the project to completion. Not many undergraduates get to stay in a lab and work on a single project from beginning to end. I am sincerely thankful to the Rose Hills foundation for allowing me to continue pursuing my passion and look forward to all of the amazing experiences that the SURF/Rose Hills Fellowship will provide.
Profile image of Jifang Xiao
Major: Bioengineering, Intended Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (minor)
Mentor: David Schaffer, Bioengineering
Sponsor: SURF Rose Hills fellow
Back to Listings
Back to Donor Reports