GSBS Annual Meeting Keynote Speaker

Friday, September 9
Wells Conference Center, Orono, ME
8:00 p.m.

Enhancing Stem Cell Regenerative Potential in Aging and Transplantation

Dr. Amy J. Wagers, Harvard University

Skeletal muscle is a highly specialized tissue composed of non-dividing, multi-nucleated muscle fibers, aswell as specialized muscle-forming stem cells (satellite cells) that remain associated with muscle fibersand are responsible for muscle growth and repair throughout life. Using direct cell sorting technologies,we have isolated satellite cells from muscle tissue and shown that they can be used to regenerate diseasedmuscle tissue. In addition, we find that dysfunction of these cells during aging contributes to ageassociatedmuscle disease. To identify molecular pathways that regulate satellite cell function, wecombined transcriptional profiling, chemical screening, and co-culture assays in a search for robustprotocols that enhance the self-renewal of muscle stem cells, promote their myogenic differentiation, andenable their efficient transplantation and engraftment. These ongoing studies point to discrete biochemicalpathways, including both intrinsic changes in gene expression, local interactions with non-myogenic celltypes, and systemic regulators, which together determine the effectiveness of satellite cell maintenanceand myogenic commitment throughout life. Finally, our recent results in aged, obese, and calorierestricted animals suggest that satellite cell function may be profoundly influenced by metabolicexperience, and that alterations in metabolism can directly modulate satellite cell activity endogenouslyand in transplantation settings. Together, these studies highlight novel mechanisms by which stem cellactivity may be coordinated with the physiological demands of the tissues these cells support, and suggestnew strategies for therapeutic intervention to enhance endogenous repair activity or improve the efficacyof transplantation-based cell replacement.

Biographical Sketch

Amy Wagers is an Investigator in the Section on Developmental and StemCell Biology at the Joslin Diabetes Center and an Associate Professor of StemCell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University. She received herdoctoral degree in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis fromNorthwestern University in 1999, and completed postdoctoral training in stemcell biology at Stanford University. Research in Dr. Wagers’ lab focuses ondefining the factors and mechanisms regulating the migration, expansion, andregenerative potential of blood-forming and muscle-forming stem cells. She isa recipient of the Burroughs Welcome Fund Career Award in BiomedicalSciences, HHMI Early Career Scientist Award, and Presidential Early CareerAward for Scientists and Engineers.