During brain (and retinal) development, reciprocal interactions between neural stem/progenitor cells (NPCs) and their microenvironment are important for regulating and coordinating a variety of inter- and intra-cellular processes, such as proliferation, differentiation, migration, and cell survival. These developmental events also impact tissue organization and matrix remodeling. The local microenvironment of multipotent NPCs has a profound influence on their fate.
The principle goals of this project are to develop a better understanding of microenvironmental factors and how they regulate stem cell differentiation. In collaborative efforts with colleagues at ISU we have been taking an interdisciplinary approach, which involves a synergy of biologists, biochemists, chemical and biological engineers and mathematicians to investigate these developmental issues.