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 served 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 National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Selected 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, a Fulbright Senior Specialist awards to study and teach at the Institut Pasteur and at the Institut Curie in Paris, the AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lectureship for innovative science, and membership in the Stanford Inventor Hall of Fame.
Blau's research area is regenerative medicine with a focus on stem cells. She is world renowned for her work on nuclear reprogramming and the demonstration of the plasticity of cell fate using cell fusion. These studies provided the scientific underpinnings for mammalian cloning and induced pluripotent stem cells. Blau also led the field with novel approaches to treating muscle damaged due to disease, injury, or aging. Her lab pioneered the design of biomaterials to mimic key features of the in vivo microenvironment, or niche, and direct stem cell fate. A major focus of her current work is the rejuvenation of muscle stem cell function to enhance muscle repair in the aged. Her research has enhanced muscle stem cell based therapies and led to the discovery of novel molecules and strategies for targeting stem cells in situ for the treatment of muscle wasting in disease and aging.
The Blau lab brings together biologists, bioinformatics experts, and bioengineers who are interested in everything from the basic mechanisms of disease, to technology development, to clinical translation. Her lab capitalizes on an interdisciplinary approach to science because 'Where we look and how we look determines what we see’. The laboratory collaborates extensively with other researchers. The overall objective is to understand and apply biology to improve quality of life.
Above photo courtesy of Amparo Garrido (www.amparogarrido.com), Madrid 2013