One of the winners of a Macarthur grant is doing some interesting work with neural stem cells.
Sally Temple is a developmental neuroscientist who traces the mechanisms by which embryonic progenitor cells divide into highly specialized neurons and support cells.
Recently, Temple has shown that progenitor cells gradually lose their capacity to divide into cell types that normally form the earliest cortical layers; this effect can be delayed partially by reducing expression of a specific gene, Foxg1. Her results suggest that the limited success to date of embryonic stem cell transplants to repair neural damage could be due to introduction of stem cells at the wrong stage of development; it may be that progenitor cells further along in their differentiation will prove more effective. Through her basic research on the differentiation of neural progenitors, Temple brings us closer to developing effective clinical treatments for central nervous system damage due to trauma, neurodegenerative diseases, malignancy, or stroke.