Neurological disorders affect over one billion people worldwide, making them a significant public health concern. For instance, more than 50 million individuals across the globe, including 6.5 million Americans aged 65 years and older, are currently living with Alzheimer's disease. While animal models have been instrumental in advancing our understanding of human neurological disorders, treatments that have developed and proven successful in these animals often fail in human clinical trials. This might be due to our limited understanding of disease mechanisms and species differences, which make it difficult for animal models to accurately replicate the complex disease conditions seen in human patients.
Human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) includes human embryonic stem cells (hESC) and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC), which have the ability to proliferate indefinitely in vitro and differentiate into specialized cell types in human brains. Thus, hPSC-derived cells show immense potential for modeling human neurological disorders using patient hiPSC-derived human cells and for developing cell therapies to replace damaged or dysregulated brain cells in patients. Our research goal is to develop human stem cell (hPSC) models to elucidate cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying human neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Down Syndrome and Autism, and apply these models for drug screening. Additionally, we aim to engineer hPSC-derived neural and immune cells for the development of cell therapies to treat neurological disorders.