Chad Cowan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Assistant Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Harvard University
Assistant Investigator, Stowers Institute for Medical Research
Our research is focused on understanding the contribution of environmental and genetic factors in the development of disease. The relative impact of these factors to pathogenesis is not well understood for many disorders. Complex interactions between genes and the environment have made it particularly difficult to develop accurate models for the sporadic and so called multifactorial forms of human disease. To further complicate studies, biopsied tissue containing the affected cell type is often extremely limited. Moreover, the developmental or pathological events leading to the disease have usually occurred long before diagnosis. While animal models exist for several diseases, they usually represent a rare, ‘single-hit’, genetic form of a disease that may not completely or accurately reflect the human disorder nor recapitulate the influence of environmental factors in the development of the pathological state. As a result, it has been extremely difficult to discern the contribution of either genetic or environmental factors in the development of the more common complex diseases, such as type-1 diabetes, Parkinsons and cardiovascular disease. To help overcome these technical difficulties and expand our understanding of these and other complex diseases we are building in vitro models using human embryonic stem cells, in which genetic and developmental aspects of the disease can be controlled.
Raymond Camahort, Ph.D.
Ludivine Challet-Meylan, PhD
Qiurong Ding, Ph.D.
Rajat Gupta, MD
Youn-Kyoung Lee, Ph.D.
Torsten Meissner, PhD
Park IH, Arora N, Huo H, Maherali N, Ahfeldt T, Shimamura A, Lensch MW, Cowan C, Hochedlinger K, Daley GQ. Disease-specific induced pluripotent stem cells. Cell 134:877-86 (2008)
Maherali N, Ahfeldt T, Utikal J, Rigamonte A, Cowan C, Hochedlinger K. A high efficiency system for the generation and study of human iPS cells. Cell Stem Cell 3(3): 340-345
Ku M, Koche RP, Rheinbay E, Mendenhall EM, Endoh M, Mikkelsen TS, Presser A, Nusbaum C, Xie X, Chi AS, Adli M, Kasif S, Ptaszek LM, Cowan CA, Lander ES, Koseki H, Bernstein BE. Genomewide analysis of PRC1 and PRC2 occupancy identifies two classes of bivalent domains. PLoS Genet. 2008 Oct;4(10):e1000242. Epub 2008 Oct 31.
Fenno LE, Ptaszek LM, Cowan CA. Human embryonic stem cells: emerging technologies and practical applications. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2008 Aug;18(4):324-9. Epub 2008 Jul 30.
Osafune K, Caron L, Borowiak M, Martinez RJ, Fitz- Gerald CS, Sato Y, Cowan CA, Chien KR, Melton DA. Marked differences in differentiation propensity among human embryonic stem cell lines. Nat Biotechnol. 2008 Mar;26(3):313-5. Epub 2008 Feb 17.