Jessica Johnson

Class of 2018

Photo of Jessica Johnson
Education: BS in Animal Science at Cal Poly


Jessica sees stem cell research/regenerative medicine as a fascinating way to fundamentally understand how biological systems work at the molecular level, so that researchers can in turn help heal patients at the source of their conditions instead of treating based on the symptoms that they experience. This way researchers can help patients find long term health solutions to improve their quality of life. She currently is interested in using stem cells as in vitro models for research, particularly neural stem cells and the neuro-regeneration process. With a better understanding in the stem cell biology of nervous tissue she eventually plans to shift towards stem cell translational medicine, so that she can begin to incorporate new diagnostics and treatments into the general population. Jessica is completing her internship in the Thomas Rando Lab at Stanford University under the guidance of Marco Quarta. Work in the Rando lab concentrates on skeletal muscle regeneration and aging. Currently, the lab is investigating cellular rejuvenation in muscle stem cells through partial reprogramming. Partial reprogramming may reverse certain aspects of the aged phenotype in cells, eliminating some of the cellular damage that accumulates with age, and restoring regenerative capacity in aged individuals. Previous studies in the lab have demonstrated that endothelial cells are critical components of the muscle stem cell niche, and play an important role during skeletal muscle regeneration. Jessica's work focuses on developing assays that characterize functional and morphological differences between young and aged endothelial cells isolated from skeletal muscle. These assays can be employed to assess the success of partial reprogramming in reverting aged cells to a more youthful phenotype.