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Mechanisms for Assembling and Resolving Naïve Pluripotency

Speaker
  • Assistant Professor, Weizmann Institute of Science
    Biography
      Dr. Hanna earned a B.Sc. in Medical Sciences (2001, summa cum laude), and a PhD/MD in clinical medicine (2007, summa cum laude), all from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. For more than four years, he conducted postdoctoral research with Prof. Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical. In his recently established lab at the Weizmann Institute, Dr. Hanna combines diverse experimentation methods with computational biology to explore topics in embryonic stem cell biology, early embryonic development and the modeling of human diseases. Projects include deciphering the mechanisms by which IPS and germ cells are produced, characterizing unique naïve human pluripotent stem cells and various stages in early human development. In addition to helping elucidate the molecular basis of cell reprogramming, this research offers the promise of creating powerful research models for infertility, cancer, degenerative and autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.

      His numerous honors and fellowships include a Novartis Fellowship by the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation (2007), a Genzyme-Whitehead Fellowship for outstanding postdoctoral fellows (2009), the TR35 award by MIT review magazine for young innovators (2010), a European Research Council early career development award (2011), the Rappaport prize in biomedical research (2013), the Krill prize by the Wolf Foundation for outstanding research achievements (2013), featured among "40 under 40" innovative scientists by Cell press (2014) and recently became an EMBO member (2017).

    Abstract

    The identity of somatic and pluripotent cells can be epigenetically reprogrammed and forced to adapt a new functional cell state by different methods and distinct combinations of exogenous factors. The aspiration to utilize such ex vivo reprogrammed pluripotent and somatic cells for therapeutic purposes necessitates understanding of the mechanisms of reprogramming and elucidating the extent of equivalence of the in vitro derived cells to their in vivo counterparts. In my presentation, I will present my group’s recent advances toward understanding these fundamental questions and further detail our ongoing efforts to generate developmentally unrestricted human naive pluripotent cells. I will conclude by highlighting new avenues for utilizing epigenetic reprogramming to naïve pluripotency for unraveling critical gene regulatory mechanisms acting during early mammalian development and highlighting prospects for new platforms for human disease and developmental modelling.


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