Dr. Studer is a pioneer in the directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). He was first to derive CNS and PNS stem cells and specific neuron types from hPSCs. His neural differentiation work has become the standard in the field and is used across hundreds of labs worldwide. Beyond cell fate, the Studer lab pushes toward new boundaries, such as the study of developmental timing. For example, he has discovered strategies to accelerate the human timing of differentiation and succeeded in manipulating “cellular age,” a technology crucial for modeling late-onset human diseases. His lab has made many important contributions to iPSC-based disease modeling. His work on familial dysautonomia and herpes simplex encephalitis are among the best examples of using iPSC technology for gaining novel mechanistic insights and for high-throughput drug discovery. In the area of cell therapy, Dr. Studer has been a leading figure in developing novel therapeutic approaches for Parkinson’s disease (PD). His lab established many of the current methods for deriving midbrain dopamine neurons from neural or pluripotent sources, and he was first to successfully use patient-matched dopamine neurons in an animal model of PD. His most recent work on hPSC-derived midbrain dopamine neurons has resolved a nearly 10-year-long search for a suitable human cell source in PD, with promising preclinical data in mouse, rat, and primate hosts. Dr. Studer now leads a consortium supported through a $15 million grant to translate his findings toward the first hPSC-based clinical trial in PD.
Lorenz Studer, MD