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Groundbreaking Researcher Joins Yale Stem Cell Center


New Haven, Conn. — Natalia Ivanova, a young scientist who has already made landmark contributions to stem cell research, will join the Yale School of Medicine Stem Cell Center as assistant professor of genetics and the first Robert McCluskey Yale Scholar.

Ivanova comes to Yale from Princeton University, where she was a research scholar in the Department of Molecular Biology. Her research focuses on embryonic stem cells and their contributions to early mouse development.

“Natalia has a very deep understanding of biology, yet is very savvy in developing and applying cutting-edge technology,” said Haifan Lin, director of the stem cell center and professor of cell biology. “She also has a keen instinct in identifying and solving big problems. The rare combination of these remarkable qualities will, for certain, propel her to success as a leading stem cell researcher.”

Embryonic and adult stem cells hold great promise for regenerative medicine, tissue repair, and gene therapy. Embryonic stem cells exist during embryonic development and give rise to all cell types present in an adult. Adult, or somatic, stem cells produce mature tissues such as blood, skin, and gut.

Ivanova received an M.S. degree in mathematics and physics at the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology, followed by a Ph.D. degree in molecular biology at the Engelhardt Institute for Molecular Biology in Moscow. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute of the New York Blood Center and more recently a research scholar at Princeton University.

As a graduate student at the Engelhardt Institute, Ivanova developed a new approach to identify differentially expressed messenger RNAs (mRNA), that carry gene coding information to the ribosome, where proteins are synthesized. She then used this approach to study early development of an African frog, Xenopus laevis.

Ivanova continued to develop transcriptional profiling technologies at the New York Blood Center and was granted a patent for a new technique that she developed and used to study mouse hematopoietic stem cells, which are found in bone marrow and can form multiple cell types.

Most recently, at Princeton, Ivanona worked to dissect the molecular mechanisms by which mouse embryonic stem cells are able to renew themselves. These studies uncovered a novel signature of gene expression in stem cells (Science, 2002) and introduced a high-throughput method to identify the function of each gene (Nature, 2006), work that she will continue at Yale.


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