Anna La Torre

Anna La Torre

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Unit
Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy, School of Medicine


Bio

Profile Introduction

The goal of our research is to understand how stem cells differentiate into the appropriate cell types at the right time and in the appropriate ratios during normal development. To that goal, we use a combination of Stem Cell lines, transgenic mouse models and biochemical approaches. We use the retina as a model system due to its relatively simple cytoarchitecture and high accessibility.Additionally, the retina can be affected by a number of diseases that lead to progressive cell loss and ultimately blindness. These devastating conditions affect millions of people worldwide. Recently, advances in embryonic stem cell (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technologies have raised the possibility of custom-built cells for in vitro studies, drug screening and cell replacement therapies. In this direction, our group has successfully differentiated ESCs and iPSCs into a variety of retinal cell types including photoreceptors and Retinal Ganglion Cells and we are exploring the feasibility of using these cells for cell replacement therapies.

Research Interests

Molecular Mechanisms of Stem Cell Differentiation in the Central Nervous System

All the cells of the Central Nervous System are derived from a common pool of neuronal stem cells. Neuronal progenitors are intrinsically limited such that a particular progenitor can only differentiate into a subset of cell types at a given time during development. A broadly accepted model proposes that progenitor cells progressively change their competence to generate different cell populations as development proceeds.

The goal of our research is to decipher the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal progenitor competence and differentiation using a combination of cell lines, transgenic mouse models and biochemical approaches. We use the mouse retina as a model system due to its relatively simple cytoarchitecture and high accessibility.

Additionally, the retina can be affected by a number of diseases that lead to progressive cell loss and ultimately irreversible blindness.  These devastating conditions affect millions of people worldwide. Recently, advances in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technologies have raised the possibility of custom-built cells for in vitro studies, drug screening and cell replacement therapies. In this direction, our group has successfully differentiated hESC and iPSCs into a variety of retinal cell types.  Currently, we are implementing novel strategies to differentiate ESCs into photoreceptors and Retinal Ganlgion Cells for cell replacement therapies.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Specialties / Focus

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Differentiation, Morphogenesis and Wound Healing
  • Neurobiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cell Biology
  • Vision

Degrees

  • 2008 PhD Neurobiology University of Barcelona - IRBB Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Barcelona
  • 2003 B.S. Biology University of Barcelona

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