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Myelin Repair and Regeneration

Turning skin cells into myelin-making cells

Stanford University
Stanford, CA Dr. Marius Wernig

At Stanford, the National Stem Cell Foundation partnered with the National MS Society to support the work of Dr. Marius Wernig and his lab at the Stanford Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

Dr. Wernig is reprogramming a patient’s own skin cells into the brain cells that make myelin, the insulation around nerve fibers that allows the brain to transmit electrical impulses to the rest of the body. Optimizing this pathway may create a therapy that will halt or reverse the loss of function in patients with diseases that damage myelin or inhibit its production.

The most common of the demyelinating diseases is MS, but there are a family of rare, inherited disorders that interfere with myelin production and are fatal in early childhood. Dr. Wernig has successfully modeled Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease in the laboratory to speed discovery and advance therapeutic options.

See Dr. Wernig’s interview with our CEO here.



Dr. Wernig is an Associate Professor of Pathology at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University. He graduated with an M.D. and Ph.D. from the Technical University of Munich where he trained in developmental genetics in the lab of Rudi Balling.

After completing his residency in Neuropathology and General Pathology at the University of Bonn, he then became a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research/MIT in Cambridge, MA.

In 2008, Dr. Wernig joined the faculty of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University.

He received an NIH Pathway to Independence Award, the Cozzarelli Prize for Outstanding Scientific Excellence from the National Academy of Sciences, the Outstanding Investigator Award from the International Society for Stem Cell Research, the New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Stem Cell Prize, the Ogawa-Yamanaka Stem Cell Prize from the Gladstone Institutes, and is an HHMI Faculty Scholar.

Dr. Wernig’s lab is interested in pluripotent stem cell biology and the molecular determinants of neural cell fate decisions. His laboratory was the first to generate functional neuronal cells reprogrammed directly from skin fibroblasts, which he termed induced neuronal (iN) cells.

The lab is now working on identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying induced lineage fate changes, the phenotypic consequences of disease-causing mutations in human neurons and other neural lineages as well as the development of novel therapeutic gene targeting and cell transplantation-based strategies for a variety of monogenetic diseases.

Dr. Wernig is also a co-founder of the Neuroscience company NeuCyte.


Related Publications:

April 15, 2013

“Stanford stem cell research offers new hope for multiple sclerosis patients” 

San Francisco Business Times, April 15, 2013

Dr. Marius Wernig has shown the ability to create new cells from ordinary skin cells that could protect nerve cells damaged in multiple sclerosis and other spinal injuries. Read more.