Class of 2013
Education: BS in Biology (UCLA), currently pursuing MS in Biology
A strong background in cell and molecular biology combined with an interest in the many facets of health and medicine drove Blake's interest towards stem cell research. He was attracted to the opportunity to study advanced cell biology while applying the knowledge to the field of regenerative medicine and biomedical engineering. He is interested in researching stem cell therapies to improve current methods of treating certain medical conditions, especially those used in dentistry and oral health.
He has previously worked with Inder Verma at Salk Institute. The aim of his project was to obtain a fibroblast sample from a diseased patient (in our case one of 3 monogenetic diseases: X-SCID, cystic fibrosis, or Alport's), differentiate the cells into a pluripotent state, correct the genetic defect, and then differentiate the gene-corrected cells into a cell type that has the potential to provide therapeutic benefit to the diseased patient. This project was relevant because it provided clear evidence for the potential of cell-based therapies for treating serious genetic diseases. His primary role in the project was the genetic correction. He was given diseased patient iPS cells and it was his job to engineer and deliver the necessary DNA vectors to these cells. The vectors were sufficient for inducing the cells to correct their genetic defect. He then had to screen the treated cells for clones that successfully gained the corrected gene. Once the corrected cells were obtained, he performed additional tests to demonstrate that the corrected gene was inserted correctly into the genome and that the disease phenotype has been subdued.
After graduating, Blake obtained a position as a Research Associate at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the laboratories of Dr. Gerald Lipshutz and Dr. James Byrne.
Blake, presenting his Internship Research at the 2013 CIRM Trainee Meeting.