Patricia G. Wilson, PhD

Patricia G. Wilson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Dr. Wilson received her Ph. D. in Genetics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison WI in 1988. She was an American Cancer Society fellow in the Department of Developmental Biology of Stanford University School of Medicine and a National Institute of Health fellow in the Department of Molecular Biology of University of Wisconsin-Madison WI. Dr. Wilson was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology of Georgia State University, Atlanta Georgia before entering the field of stem cell biology at the University of Georgia, Athens GA. Dr. Wilson joined the faculty of WFIRM in 2008.

SYNOPOSIS OF AREA OF INTEREST: Dr. Wilson is broadly interested in understanding how stem cells maintain their stem cell identity and yet respond to intrinsic and extrinsic cues to initiate differentiation into specialized cell types. Dr. Wilson’s group is focused on development of neural cell lineages for translational medicine.

DETAILED AREA OF INTEREST: Stem cells vary with respect to developmental potential and the field of stem cell biology has an increasing pool of stem cell resources. Until recently, human embryonic stem (hES) cells represented the stem cell with the broadest and potentially most useful developmental potential. These stem cells are self-renewing pluripotent cells that can differentiate into any cell type in the body. Within the last few years, methods have emerged to generate pluripotent stemc cells by genetically reprogramming somatic cells into a pluripotent-like state. Adult stem cells in vivo represent pools of more developmentally restricted stem cells that live in a specialized niche that maintains stem cell self-renewal and differentiation potential until extrinsic cues trigger differentiation.

Neural lineages arise from the neural tube and from the neural crest during early embryonic development. Derivation of neural lineages during development is our model for generating neural lineages from stem cells in culture. When serum and feeder layer support are withdrawn from hES cell cultures, radial arrangements of neural stem cells, known as neural rosettes, spontaneously form. Neural rosettes contain multipotential neural stem cells that generate neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, the three major classes of cells generated in the neural tube during development. Neural rosettes are examples of primitive, but complex tissues derived from hES cells available for biomedical research and regenerative medicine.Use of stem cell resources in regenerative medicine will require both renewable sources of neurons and glia, methods to retrieve the cell target of choice as well as mechanism to maintain cell viability during differentiation without promoting continued cell proliferation.

Neural rosettes derived from hES cells. Neural rosettes (asterisks mark center) in differentiating cultures of human embryonic stem cells. Application of RA and Shh to neuroepithelial-like cells will direct differentiation toward ventral/caudal cell fates such as motor neurons. Rosettes were immunostained with antibodies against SOX2 (red), a transcription factor expressed in neural lineages, and Isl-1 (green), a transcription factor expressed in progenitors of motor neurons, and a chromatin dye (blue). 

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Institute for Regenerative Medicine

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