Overview: Regenerative Medicine (Stem Cells) and Molecular Imaging

The Parashurama Research Group

Nature Outlook magazine cover on regenerative medicine.

Regenerative medicine promises to treat diseases in many tissues including internal organs like the liver and pancreas.


The development of pluripotent stem cells (PSC), composed of both induced pluripotent cells (iPSC) and embryonic stem cells (ESC), gives scientists unprecedented tools to accelerate biotechnology. The biotechnological applications of PSC include gene and cell therapy, tissue engineering, human-on-chip applications, human product production, cloning, stem cell reprogramming, personalized medicine, gene editing, assisted reproduction, understanding congenital disease, human genetic and epigenetic studies, disease modeling, chimera organism formation, drug development, and food production. One of the goals of stem cell engineering is to generate pure, homogenous, and abundant amounts of critical lineages, like cardiomyocytes, neurons, or hepatocytes. There are major challenges to this task, including measuring and proving functional maturity and preventing cellular heterogeneity. Further, creating three dimensional (3D), mature, structurally accurate and functional tissue is a major challenge. Our stem cell engineering program represents all of these challenges. In molecular imaging, molecular biological processes, such as gene expression, receptor upregulation, and metabolism, are assessed noninvasively and quantitatively in the intact living subject. Thus, merging molecular imaging and stem cell-based disease modeling could lead to the discovery of new disease mechanisms, and new classes of molecular imaging agents that can be clinically translated as real molecular diagnostics for use in patients with liver diseases. I have designed a research program that addresses problems and limitations in these fields.