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Exomedicine Institute/Space Tango

Moving a research collaboration into microgravity for Parkinson's and progressive MS research

Exomedicine Institute/Space Tango
Lexington, KY

NSCF has partnered with the Exomedicine Institute and Space Tango to coordinate the launch of an NSCF-funded research collaboration to the International Space Station (ISS).

Cells behave very differently in microgravity for reasons not yet completely understood, and this need to understand is galvanizing research teams at academic centers worldwide. We have connected our funded researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego and the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute in NYC for a project collaboration for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and a number of disabling and fatal inherited childhood disorders.

The NSCF-funded project will launch from Cape Canaveral and be monitored on the ISS for a minimum 60 days.

Biography for Dr. Fossati:

Dr. Fossati received her PhD at the University of Bologna – Italy, and joined Dr. Hans Snoeck’s lab at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 2006, while still a PhD student.

She has been working on the development of the immune system, focusing on B lymphocytes first and, as a post doctoral fellow, on the generation of thymic epithelial cells from embryonic stem cells.

Her interest in the stem cell field goes back to her undergraduate studies, at a time when the concept of regenerative medicine was just emerging as a truly exciting approach to cure diseases. A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2009 shifted her research interest to better understanding the disease and in particular its neurodegenerative component, which is responsible for irreversible neurological disabilities and therefore represents a new target for therapeutic intervention.

Bringing the stem cells expertise to the MS field, she developed a research plan that focuses on modeling MS with human cells, understanding genetic susceptibility by studying patient-specific cells and, ultimately, drug discovery and cell replacement therapies targeting neurodegeneration and de-myelination.

Biography for Dr. Bratt-Leal:

Dr. Bratt-Leal received his B.S. from the University of Washington in 2005 and his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech and Emory University in the field of Biomedical Engineering in 2011. At UW, he worked in the labs of Dr. Ceci Giachelli and Dr. Buddy Ratner to apply sphere templating techniques for the development of porous fibrin scaffolds.

His specialty lies in the field of directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells, including differentiating stem cells towards dopaminergic neurons (the cells which are lost in the progression of Parkinson’s disease.)

He joined the Loring lab at The Scripps Research Institute specifically to work on the Parkinson’s project and now leads the research team working on Parkinson’s research as the Director of Research and Development.

Awards:  NIH Cell & Tissue Engineering Training Grant Fellow (2008-2010) STAR, Biomaterials Conference Student Travel Award Hilton Head Student Travel Award (2009) 3rd Place, Student Poster Award, Georgia Stem Cell Symposium (2008) NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Honorable Mention (2007, 2008) Goizueta Fellowship (2007-2011).

Learn more about this collaboration here.