Dr Ivana Barbaric
Research in my lab is focused on the biology of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), which have the potential to create all of the cell types within the body. Therefore, hPSCs may provide a useful source of cells for regenerative medicine. The assurance of genetic stability of hPSCs is pivotal for their eventual safe use in regenerative medicine, but hPSCs adapt to life in culture by acquiring non-random genetic changes that render them more robust and easier to grow, akin to cancer cells. In our work we are investigating the causes and consequences of genetic changes on hPSCs. In particular, we aim to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that underlie the maintenance of the integrity of the hPSC genome, and how disruption of these mechanisms can lead to undesired genetic changes. The reduction of selection pressures on hPSCs in vitro requires an understanding of the native stem cell microenvironment and recapitulating it in culture. Using interdisciplinary approaches, we are creating artificial stem cell niches to identify mechanical and chemical cues that influence stem cell fate decisions. We are also using hPSCs to model diseases and are developing protocols for production of differentiated cells from hPSCs for uses in regenerative medicine.
- The International Stem Cell Initiative (2018) Assessing the developmental and malignant potential of human pluripotent stem cells. Nature Communications, in press.
- Baker D, Hirst AJ, Gokhale PJ, Juarez MA, Williams S, Wheeler M, Bean K, Allison TF, Moore HD, Andrews PW, Barbaric I (2016) Detecting genetic mosaicism in cultures of human pluripotent stem cells. Stem Cell Reports, 7:998-1012.
- Barbaric I, Biga V, Gokhale PJ, Jones M, Stavish D, Glen G, Coca D, Andrews PW (2014) Time-lapse analysis of human embryonic stem cells reveals multiple bottlenecks restricting colony formation and their relief upon culture adaptation. Stem Cell Reports, 3:142-55.