Embryonic stem (ES) cells are a unique type of cell derived from the inner cell mass of the blactocyte stage embryo. These cells are pluripotent (namely, they can be differentiated into virtually any cell that makes up the embryo and later on the adult) and have an unlimited self-renewal capacity. Recently, a new method has been developed that enables the reprogramming of adult somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are similar (but not identical) to ES cells.
These features make human pluripotent stem cells (ES and iPS cells) a powerful tool for studying questions related to (1) embryonic development; and (2) diseases caused by abnormal embryonic development.
In our lab we utilize pluripotent cells and pluripotent genes to study molecular mechanisms that prevent normal embryonic development and lead, among other things, to pediatric tumor formation.
For these studies we use advanced molecular methods and employ both in-vitro models of human pluripotent stem cells and animal based models.