Our current research mostly centers on hematopoiesis and hematopoietic stem cells, and aging in these systems. Hematopoietic cells are responsible for constant maintenance and immune surveillance in almost every part of the body. As most blood cells have a relatively short lifespan, this requires the hematopoietic stem cell, the cell on top of the hematopoietic system, to have the greatest power of self-renewal of any adult tissue, along with cells in the skin.
Hematopoiesis is the process by which mature blood cells form from hematopoietic stem cells. Abnormal hematopoiesis and stem cell regulation are associated with a wide spectrum of diseases, ranging from anemia to cancer. Hematopoietic stem cells are also central to clinical cell therapy (i.e., stem cell transplantation and gene therapy).
In mice and humans there is a successive decline in stem cell function from adulthood to old age. This decline has been associated with perturbed tissue homeostasis and impaired injury repair in aged individuals. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from aged animals have limited ability to self-renew, to contribute efficiently to hematopoiesis and to differentiate into red blood cells and lymphoid cells. The mechanisms of HSC aging have remained largely unexplored.