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Aileen Anderson - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

Aileen Anderson

Director of the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center | UC Irvine


Dr. Anderson is an expert on stem cell research, with a focus on spinal cord and traumatic brain injury.





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Interview with Aileen Anderson Stem Cell Self-Renewal & Glioblastoma: Battling Brain Cancer



Dr. Anderson’s research is focused on two principal goals. First, investigating the interactions of transplanted stem cell populations within the injured niche, including the role of the evolving inflammatory microenvironment in neural stem cell fate and migration decisions. This work has recently revealed a role for novel neuroimmune signaling pathway in glioblastoma stem cell biology. Second, investigating the role of inflammatory mechanisms in degeneration and regeneration in the injured CNS; particularly the role of the innate immune response and application of biomaterials to promote functional regeneration. Research in Dr. Anderson’s laboratory bridges the junction between seeking to understand mechanism at the basic neuroscience level, and identifying translational neuroscience strategies to ameliorate the cellular and histopathological deficits associated with SCI to promote recovery of function.

Areas of Expertise (4)


Stem Cell Biology

Stem Cell Research

Spinal Cord Injury

Accomplishments (1)

UCI Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Research Mentorship (professional)


Education (2)

University of California, Irvine: PhD, Biology, Neurobiology 1996

University of Illinois, Urbana: BS, Bioengineering 1987

Affiliations (3)

  • Society for Neuroscience
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • International Society for Stem Cell Research

Media Appearances (7)

Can We Rebuild the Spinal Cord? These Scientists Are Redefining What's Possible

Inverse  online


After someone experiences a spinal cord injury, doctors set off on a race against the clock. … “The dominant thinking was that you should focus on acute injuries,” Aileen Anderson, a stem cell researcher [and professor] at the University of California, Irvine, tells Inverse. “If you could just hit a magic bullet at that stage and minimize the amount of damage that’s happening because it kind of rolls out over days and a couple of weeks … this was the place to target.” … Some teams, including Anderson and her colleagues, are trying to put specialized materials into people’s spinal cords, such as scaffolds made of hydrogels, as another method to help the spinal cord reconnect itself. It could also help to combine scaffolding and stem cells, Anderson says, an idea currently in the early stages of development.

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$5.5M grant awarded for spinal stem cell research

Becker's Spine Review  online


"In the U.S., there are about 285,000 individuals living with paralysis due to traumatic spinal cord injury, and there are no FDA-approved treatments," Dr. Anderson said in a Nov. 30 news release. "Integrating transplanted human neural stem cells is likely to direct improved locomotor function, and increasing a single level of spine function can make a significant positive impact on both quality of life and the economic burden of disease for these patients."

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Campus labs produce sample-preserving fluid for COVID-19 test kits

University of California  online


“We set up a mini task force of related medical investigators and faculty from various schools,” says Aileen Anderson, professor of physical medicine & rehabilitation and director of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. “We sourced all the reagents needed for the media and set up a system to manage production in Gross Hall with social distancing measures in place to protect our staff.”

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Campus labs making sample-preserving fluid for COVID-19 test kits

UCI News  online


“We set up a mini task force of related medical investigators and faculty from various schools,” says Aileen Anderson, professor of physical medicine & rehabilitation and director of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. “We sourced all the reagents needed for the media and set up a system to manage production in Gross Hall with social distancing measures in place to protect our staff.”

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Traumatic CNS injury and the inflammatory stem cell niche: an interview with Aileen Anderson

NeuroCentral  online


Aileen Anderson is a Professor at the University of California Irvine (CA, USA) and is also the Director of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center at the institution. In this interview, Aileen speaks to us about her talk at the 21st Spinal Research Annual Network Meeting (6–7 September 2019, London, UK) on traumatic CNS injury and the inflammatory stem cell niche. Aileen also discusses the obstacles involved with tissue regeneration following injury and the techniques she employs to help overcome the challenges with strong inflammatory responses.

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Healing from within

UCI News  online


In the 1986 “Star Trek” movie, there’s a scene in which Dr. Leonard McCoy gives a woman a pill to “regrow” her kidney, miraculously curing her of an ailment from the inside. When Aileen Anderson, director of UCI’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, first saw the movie three decades ago, the idea of fixing an organ internally seemed like a sci-fi miracle.

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Stem cell researchers receive $1.6 million from CIRM for spinal cord injury studies

UCI News  online


UCI stem cell researchers have received $1.6 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to create a new line of neural stem cells that can be used to treat chronicle cervical spinal cord injury. Aileen Anderson, director of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center at UCI, will lead the effort.

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Articles (8)

Polycistronic Delivery of IL-10 and NT-3 Promotes Oligodendrocyte Myelination and Functional Recovery in a Mouse Spinal Cord Injury Model

Tissue Engineering Part A

Dominique R. Smith, Courtney M. Dumont, Jonghyuck Park, Andrew J. Ciciriello, Amina Guo, Ravindra Tatineni, Brian J. Cummings, Aileen J. Anderson, and Lonnie D. Shea

2020 One million estimated cases of spinal cord injury (SCI) have been reported in the United States and repairing an injury has constituted a difficult clinical challenge. The complex, dynamic, inhibitory microenvironment postinjury, which is characterized by proinflammatory signaling from invading leukocytes and lack of sufficient factors that promote axonal survival and elongation, limits regeneration.

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PLG Bridge Implantation in Chronic SCI Promotes Axonal Elongation and Myelination

ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering

Dominique R. Smith, Courtney M. Dumont, Andrew J. Ciciriello, Amina Guo, Ravindra Tatineni, Mary K. Munsell, Brian J. Cummings, Aileen J. Anderson, and Lonnie D. Shea

2019 Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition that may cause permanent functional loss below the level of injury, including paralysis and loss of bladder, bowel, and sexual function. Patients are rarely treated immediately, and this delay is associated with tissue loss and scar formation that can make regeneration at chronic time points more challenging. Herein, we investigated regeneration using a poly(lactide-co-glycolide) multichannel bridge implanted into a chronic SCI following surgical resection of necrotic tissue.

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Intravascular innate immune cells reprogrammed via intravenous nanoparticles to promote functional recovery after spinal cord injury

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Jonghyuck Park, Yining Zhang, Eiji Saito, Steve J. Gurczynski, Bethany B. Moore, Brian J. Cummings, Aileen J. Anderson, and Lonnie D. Shea

2019 Inflammatory responses, such as those following spinal cord injury (SCI), lead to extensive tissue damage that impairs function. Here, we present nanoparticles that target circulating immune cells acutely, with nanoparticles reprogramming the immune cell response. The polymeric nanoparticles are formed without an active pharmaceutical ingredient that can have off-target effects, and internalization redirects some immune cells to the spleen, with modest numbers at the SCI.

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Neutrophils Induce Astroglial Differentiation and Migration of Human Neural Stem Cells via C1q and C3a Synthesis

J Immunol

2017 Inflammatory processes play a key role in pathophysiology of many neurologic diseases/trauma, but the effect of immune cells and factors on neurotransplantation strategies remains unclear. We hypothesized that cellular and humoral components of innate immunity alter fate and migration of human neural stem cells (hNSC).

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Preclinical Efficacy Failure of Human CNS-Derived Stem Cells for Use in the Pathway Study of Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

Stem Cell Reports

2017 We previously showed the efficacy of multiple research cell lines (RCLs) of human CNS neural stem cells (HuCNS-SCs) in mouse and rat models of thoracic spinal cord injury (SCI), supporting a thoracic SCI clinical trial. Experts recommend in vivo preclinical testing of the intended clinical cell lot/line (CCL) in models with validity for the planned clinical target.

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Systemic Neutrophil Depletion Modulates the Migration and Fate of Transplanted Human Neural Stem Cells to Rescue Functional Repair

J Neurosci

2017 The interaction of transplanted stem cells with local cellular and molecular cues in the host CNS microenvironment may affect the potential for repair by therapeutic cell populations. In this regard, spinal cord injury (SCI), Alzheimer's disease, and other neurological injuries and diseases all exhibit dramatic and dynamic changes to the host microenvironment over time.

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Achieving Informed Consent for Cellular Therapies: A Preclinical Translational Research Perspective on Regulations Versus a Dose of Reality

J Law Med Ethics

2016 A central principle of bioethics is "subject autonomy," the acknowledgement of the primacy of the informed consent of the subject of research. Autonomy requires informed consent - the assurance that the research participant is informed about the possible risks and benefits of the research. In fact, informed consent is difficult when a single drug is being tested, although subjects have a baseline understanding of the testing of a pharmacological agent and the understanding that they can stop taking the drug if there were an adverse event.

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Biomaterial Bridges Enable Regeneration and Re-Entry of Corticospinal Tract Axons Into the Caudal Spinal Cord After SCI: Association With Recovery of Forelimb Function


2015 Severed axon tracts fail to exhibit robust or spontaneous regeneration after spinal cord injury (SCI). Regeneration failure reflects a combination of factors, including the growth state of neuronal cell bodies and the regeneration-inhibitory environment of the central nervous system. However, while spared circuitry can be retrained, target reinnervation depends on longitudinally directed regeneration of transected axons.

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