Dr. Helen Blau received her B.A. from University of York in England and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. She is currently the Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Professor and Director of the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology in the Microbiology and Immunology Department and the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell biology and Regenerative Medicine in the Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.
Dr. Blau currently serves on the Ellison Medical Foundation Scientific Advisory Board and the Harvard Board of Overseers and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Awards and honors include the Senior Career Recognition Award of WICB of the American Society of Cell Biology; the FASEB Excellence in Science Award; an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Nijmegen, Holland; a Nobel Forum Lecture at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, a Rolf-Sammet-Fonds Visiting Professorship at the University of Frankfurt, an invitation to give a plenary talk at the 400th Pontifical Academy at the Vatican and an audience with Pope John Paul II, and a Fulbright Senior Specialist award to study and teach at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.
Professor Blau's research area is regenerative medicine with a focus on stem cells. She is world renowned for her research on nuclear reprogramming and demonstrating the plasticity of cell fate using cell fusion. Her laboratory has also pioneered the design of biomaterials to mimic the in vivo microenvironment and direct stem cell fate. Her muscle heterokaryon experiments proved that silent muscle genes can be activated in diverse adult cells and that the differentiated state of a cell requires continuous regulation and is dictated by the balance of regulators present at any given time. Most recently, her lab used this cell fusion approach to define a novel role for the enzyme AID in mammalian DNA demethylation and reprogramming cells toward pluripotency.
The Blau laboratory also engineers artificial in vitro platforms that recapitulate key features of in vivo stem cell microenvironments, or niches. These studies address a major limitation, as most tissue-specific stem cells cannot currently be cultured without loss of stemness. Her findings are leading to more efficient iPS generation, cell based therapies and the discovery of novel molecules and therapies that will impact muscle wasting diseases and hematopoietic malignancies. Her laboratory uses a multi-disciplinary approach to overcome major clinical
1969 B.A. University of York, York, England
1970 M.A. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
1975 Ph.D. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
- 1969 - 1975: Predoctoral Fellow, Department of Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (advisor: F.C. Kafatos)
- 1975 - 1978: Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Medical Genetics, Departments of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, CA (advisor: C.J. Epstein)
- 1978 - 1986: Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
- 1986 - 1991: Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
- 1991 - 2002: Professor, Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
1997 - 2002: Chair, Department of Molecular Pharmacology (now Department of Chemical and Systems Biology), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
1997 - present: Director, Gene Therapy Technology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
1999 - present: Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Foundation Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
- 2002 – present: Director, Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology & Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
Above photo courtesy of Amparo Garrido (www.amparogarrido.com), Madrid 2013