Faculty Faculty 2008 Faculty 2009 Faculty 2010 Faculty 2012

Ann Kiessling, PhD

Dr. Kiessling is Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation. She holds bachelor’s degrees in nursing and chemistry, a master’s degree in organic chemistry and a doctorate in biochemistry/biophysics from Oregon State University. (download CV PDF)

Her postdoctoral research explored relationships between viruses and cancer at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and University of California, San Diego. The work in San Diego led to the controversial discovery of reverse transcriptase in normal human cells in 1979 (Kiessling & Goulian). Prior to this discovery, it had been assumed that reverse transcriptase was an enzyme found only in retroviruses. To understand the normal biologic role of reverse transcriptase, Dr. Kiessling began to study eggs and early cleaving embryos.

Dual interests in virology and reproductive biology led to research in semen transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and the creation of the first laboratory for Human In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in Oregon in the early 1980’s. Harvard Medical School recruited Dr. Kiessling in 1985, where she continues her research today.

The need to conduct biomedical research in areas not funded by the federal government led to the incorporation of the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation. The Foundation’s Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) has helped more than 80 couples affected by HIV disease have safe, healthy babies. Because of this success, more than two-dozen fertility centers throughout the country have implemented the SPAR program, allowing couples to seek care closer to home.

The techniques developed for SPAR have now been extended to other diseases of the male genitourinary tract, such as prostatitis and bladder infections. Expertise in human egg biology led Dr. Kiessling to develop the country’s first human egg donor program for stem cell research in 2000. It remains a research focus today.

Dr. Kiessling has published more than 100 scientific papers and given more than 60 lectures to audiences around the world. Her writings can be found in publications such as Nature, Lancet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and Connecticut Law Review, and she has been the focus of articles in The Boston Globe and Newsweek. In 2003, Dr. Kiessling wrote Human Embryonic Stem Cells: An Introduction to the Science and Therapeutic Potential, the first textbook on the controversial topic.

Faculty Faculty 2008 Faculty 2009 Faculty 2010 Faculty 2012

Wise Young, MD, PhD

Founding Director, Professor II, The Richard H. Shindell Chair in Neuroscience

2012 News
 New York Daily News Interview About the First Multi-Center Clinical Trials in China
At about 20 centres in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, stem cells are injected into patients’ damaged spines to help regenerate nerves, while lithium is used to promote the growth of the nerve fibres.

Dr. Wise Young, founding director of the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience and a professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is recognized as one of the world’s outstanding neuroscientists. He obtained a bachelor of arts degree from Reed College, a doctorate from the University of Iowa and a medical degree from Stanford University. After a surgery internship at New York University and Bellevue Medical Center, he joined the neurosurgery department at NYU. In 1984, he became director of neurosurgery research. In 1997, as part of Rutgers’ commitment to the future, Dr. Young was recruited to establish and direct a world-class center for collaborative neuroscience.

Dr. Young was part of the team that discovered and established high-dose methylprednisolone (MP) as the first effective therapy for spinal cord injuries. This 1990 work upended concepts that spinal cord injuries were permanent, refocused research, and opened new vistas of hope. This team also played a major role in Andy Blight’s signal work on 4-aminopyridine (4-AP), which shows significant promise for increasing nerve conductivity.

Dr. Young developed the first standardized rat spinal cord injury model used worldwide for testing therapies, formed the first consortium funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test promising therapies, and helped establish several widely accepted clinical outcome measures in spinal cord injury research.

Dr. Young founded and served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurotrauma. He organized the National and International Neurotrauma Societies as forums for scientists to share discoveries and collaborate on spinal cord injury and brain research. He serves or has served on advisory committees for the NIH, the National Academy of Sciences, and NICHD, and has served on advisory boards for many spinal cord injury organizations.

Well-known as a leader in spinal cord injury research, Dr. Young has appeared on “20/20” with Barbara Walters and Christopher Reeve, “48 Hours,” “Today,” “Eye-to-Eye,” Fox News and CNN’s news magazine with Jeff Greenfield. His work has been featured in a Life magazine special edition, USA Today, and innumerable other news, talk and print presentations throughout the world. His honors include: NIH Jacob Javits Neuroscience Award (1985-1992), Wakeman Award (1991), Tall Texan of the Year Award (1997), ‘Cure’ Award (1998), Trustees Award for Excellence in Research (2001), Asian American Achievement Award (2002), Douglass Medal for work with the advancement of young women in the sciences (2003), and Elizabeth M. Boggs Award for service to the disability community (2004). In August 2001, TIME Magazine named Dr. Young as ‘America’s Best’ in the field of spinal cord injury research. In 2005 he was the first researcher elected to the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame. Dr. Young was appointed to the Richard H. Schindell Chair in Neuroscience in 2006 by the Rutgers University Board of Governors.

Faculty Faculty 2009 Faculty 2012

Keith Tansey, MD, PhD

Dr. Keith Tansey joined Shepherd Center as Director of Spinal Cord Injury Research in 2008 and simultaneously was appointed to the Departments of Neurology and Physiology at Emory University School of Medicine and to the Spinal Cord Injury Clinic at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

Dr. Tansey completed his B.S. and M.S. in Biology and Biomechanics at Stanford University and then completed his M.D. and Ph.D in Neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where his dissertation research focused on spinal cord physiology. He completed his residency training in neurology at Washington University in St. Louis and then fellowships in spinal cord injury research and neurorehabilitation at Washington University and at the University of California Los Angeles. He returned to UT Southwestern and directed the Spinal Cord Injury Program there before he moved to Shepherd Center.

Dr. Tansey is board certified in Neurology and Spinal Cord Injury Medicine. He has won several teaching and research awards including one from the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) and he has presented his research work to the National Neurotrauma Society, the American Society for Neurorehabilitation, the Society for Neuroscience and at several international scientific meetings. Dr. Tansey also served as a Research Consortium Associate for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

Dr. Tansey is interested in neural plasticity and repair (re-training of remaining neural connections and generation of new neural connections) that leads to functional recovery after spinal cord injury and how those processes could be improved. He is specifically interested in neural circuits for motor functions like locomotion, but also neural circuits related to pain and autonomic nervous system function. He is working to combine interventions like activity based therapies with pharmacology, electrical stimulation, and even cellular transplantation to improve neural recovery after injury.

Dr. Tansey has combined animal model and human research to gain better insight into these questions and to more rapidly translate basic science research ideas into clinical studies.

The Shepherd Center

Faculty Faculty 2008 Faculty 2009 Faculty 2012

Hans Keirstead, PhD

Reeve-Irvine Research Center
Associate Professor
Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology

Development of strategies to limit degeneration and enhance regeneration after spinal cord injury, with emphasis on human embryonic stem cells

The focus of the Keirstead laboratory is the development of strategies to limit degeneration and enhance regeneration after spinal cord injury, of both axons and myelin. The laboratory is investigating strategies to reduce or eliminate the post-traumatic enlargement of spinal cord injury sites that normally occurs after traumatic injury. The laboratory has developed an injection-based therapy that significantly decreased tissue loss if administered soon after traumatic injury. Human reagents necessary for clinical trials have been generated, and a clinical trial, focusing on ulcerative colitis, using this approach began in 2005.

The Keirstead laboratory also investigates cell transplantation therapy for spinal cord injury, and was the first lab in North America to garner federally-approved embryonic stem cells for spinal cord research. The laboratory has focused on myelin restoration following spinal cord injury, and demonstrated that oligodendrocyte progenitor transplantation therapy can restore lost function, including the ability of coordinated walking, to spinal cord injured rats. This work is the basis of a therapy that is currently being developed for clinical trials. The laboratory is generating other cell populations that may benefit chronic spinal cord injury, and also researching means to eliminate the glial scar that forms after spinal cord injury and in multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Keirstead is an Associate Professor at the Reeve-Irvine Research Center. The Canadian-born neuroscientist received his PhD from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. His PhD thesis concerned his invention of a novel method for regenerating damaged spinal cords, and formed the basis of several worldwide patents as well as the formation of a company in 1999 to bring this treatment towards clinical trials. He received the Cameron Award for the outstanding PhD thesis in Canada. Dr. Keirstead then moved to Cambridge, England, where he conducted 4 years of post-doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge furthering his studies of spinal cord injury and beginning studies of multiple sclerosis. He was awarded Canadian and British Fellowships to support this work. He received the distinct honor of election to two senior academic posts, Fellow of the Governing Body of Downing College, and Senate Member of the University of Cambridge, and was the youngest member to be elected to those positions.

In 2000, Dr. Keirstead became an Assistant Professor in the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at the University of California. Irvine and directs a large team investigating the cellular biology and treatment of spinal cord trauma, research that also has significance for multiple sclerosis and other diseases of the nervous system. In order to bring his treatments to clinical trials, he has founded or partnered with biotechnology companies to fund and conduct pre-clinical and clinical development. Hans was recently awarded the Distinguished Assistant Professor of UCI Award, the UCI Academic Senate’s highest honor, as well as the UCI Innovation Award.

UCIrvine Reeve-Irvine Research Center

University of California at Irvine

Faculty Faculty 2009 Faculty 2012

Philip Horner, PhD

Dr. Horner’s research focuses on regeneration in the central nervous system (CNS) with an emphasis on stem cell and progenitor cell biology. His primary interests are in the molecular controls of neural and glial cell interactions in models of demyelination, injury and degeneration. His laboratory uses cellular and molecular techniques to study stem cells and their progeny in the intact and injured CNS. The adult spinal CNS retains a stem cell with the capacity to differentiate into all the major cell subtypes of the mature CNS: neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes.

The Horner lab is using confocal microscopy and time-lapse imaging to track these cells, labeled with retroviruses, in the intact and injured brain. Other projects include the discovery and experimental delivery of growth factors that regulate axon regeneration and myelination in models of spinal cord trauma, demyelinating disorders and retinal degeneration.

Faculty Faculty 2010 Faculty 2012

Ed Wirth, MD, PhD

Dr. Edward Wirth served for 7 years as Medical Director, Regenerative Medicine at Geron Corporation (NASDAQ: GERN) and most recently as Chief Science Officer at InVivo Therapeutic. While at Geron he led efforts to initiate human clinical trials of Geron’s application of human progenitor cells to spinal cord injury. Prior to his work with Geron Corporation, Dr. Wirth held appointments at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center and at the University of Chicago.

From 1997 to 2002, Dr. Wirth led the team at the University of Florida that performed the first human embryonic spinal cord tissue transplants in the U.S., demonstrating the feasibility and safety of implanting embryonic spinal cord cells into patients. Dr. Wirth received a Ph.D. in neuroscience and an M.D. from the University of Florida, and earned a B.A. in physics from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.

Faculty Faculty 2012

Brian K. Kwon, MD, PhD, FRCSC

Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Injury
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Career Scholar
Associate Professor, Department of Orthopaedics, University of British Columbia

Dr. Kwon specializes in the surgical management of adult spinal disorders. Dr. Kwon earned a medical degree from Queen’s University, then completed his orthopaedic surgical residency at UBC in 2000. Following this, he did a fellowship in adult spinal surgery at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He also completed a PhD in Neuroscience from UBC in the study of regeneration strategies for spinal cord injuries. As a Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute Mentored Clinician Scientist, he divides his time between patient-care at Vancouver General Hospital and research in spinal cord repair at his laboratory on the UBC campus and is currently serving at the rank of Associate Professor.

Faculty Faculty 2012

H. Richard Winn, M.D

Director of Neurosurgery, Lenox Hill Hospital
Professor of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Dr. Winn joined the faculty of the Department of Neurosurgery at Mount Sinai in 2003 as Director of Research. His own interest in Neurosurgical research began in 1971: as part of the University of Virginia residency, Dr. Winn spent a year in England where he had the opportunity to initiate clinical research on the natural history of cerebral aneurysms at Atkinson Morley’s Hospital in Wimbledon and to pursue long-term outcome studies initiated by Sir Wylie McKissock.

Following military service in Germany, Dr. Winn returned to a faculty position, joining John A. Jane, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Virginia where he initiated his clinical activities while simultaneously pursuing basic science training in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular physiology.

It was in this laboratory setting that he began his studies on the role of adenosine and cerebral blood flow regulation. He has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1974 for this ongoing effort.

From 1983-2002 Dr. Winn was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle. In 2003, Dr. Winn moved to Mount Sinai Medical School where he was appointed as a tenured Professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience.

He has served on the American Board of Neurological Surgery (Vice Chairman, 2001-2002) and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Neurosurgery (Chairman, 2000-2001). He is a founding and consulting editor of Neurosurgery Clinics of North America and the editor-in-chief of Youman’s Fifth edition, The Textbook of Neurological Surgery (Elsevier, 2003) and co-editor of The Management of Cerebral Aneurysms (Elsevier, 2003). Widely recognized for his clinical expertise, he has been named a “Best Physician” in multiple publications since 1991. His clinical specialty interests are cerebrovascular diseases, tumors, spine, radiosurgery and trauma.

The Winn Prize

The H. Richard Winn, M.D. Prize is an annual award established in presented by of the Society of Neurological Surgeons to encourage research in the neurosciences and to recognize outstanding, continuous commitment to research in the neurosciences by a neurological surgeon. The Society of Neurological Surgeons is the American society of leaders in neurosurgical residency education, and is the oldest neurosurgical society in the world.
More information