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The birth of birds was selected as one of the top10 scientific achievements of 2014

A concept animal showing ectodermal and endodermal organs

Research Description
    The laboratory asks fundamental questions in bio-medical research. The focus of our research is morphogenesis, i.e. how cells are assembled into functional forms. We are concerned with the principles that determine the specific number, size and shape of different organs. This is an important process, as there is much to learn about the principles that can guide stem cells to form specific tissues and organs required for medical treatment. Our approach is to ask Nature how she does it - using the feather as a Rosetta stone to decipher these principles, because of the distinctive forms of feathers and interest in the evolution of flight. This unique model has allowed us to make several major impacts in the field of morphogenesis and develop interesting interfaces with scientists in different disciplines.  

Self-organization process in newborn skin organoid formation inspires strategy to restore hair regeneration of adult cells.

Hairs grown from organoid cultures

This is our PNAS paper published on Aug 10, 2017. “Self-organization process in newborn skin organoid formation inspires strategy to restore hair regeneration of adult cells”. It is a multi-disciplinary research integrating stem cell biology, self-organization cell behavior, tissue engineering, omcis analyses, small molecule screening, and eventually a model on guiding multi-cellular configurations in a four-dimensional morphospace. Toward the application side, normally, many aging person become alopecic because adult cells gradually lose regenerative ability. Here, With our new findings, we are able to make adult mouse cells to produce hairs again! The work is also unique that it applies time lapse movies to record cell behaviors and analyze the principles on how stem cells are organized into skin organoids.

The movies shown in the paper were integrated from 500 movie recordings. The movies were taken using The USC BCC imaging core facility.

The movies can also be directly accessed by this site

USC news report on our recent paper

Skin cells from adult mouse do not form hairs. With cues learned from the current study, authors can environmental reprogram cells from adult mouse to produce hairs after the skin organoids are transplanted onto nude mice.

Dissociated skin epidermal (green) and dermal (red) progenitor cells undergo a series of morphological transitions to form a reconstituted skin.

@Cheng-Ming Chuong
August 2017