Faculty Profile: Cummings, Brian

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Faculty Information Lab Information (Packet Type, Course Title, & Department) Location
Cummings, Brian
Lab Contact:
Brian Cummings
(949) 824-3254
Department: SOM - Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
845 Health Science Road, 2030 Sue & Bill Gross Hall

Research Description

Dr. Cummings in an Associate Professor in the Departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders and Anatomy & Neurobiology. His laboratory investigates the characterization of ES, iPS, and adult neural stem cell lines for use as therapeutics by studying the interactions between human neural stem cells and the injured CNS using in vitro and in vivo models of spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and neurodegeneration. One focus is the effect of the injured microenvironment on stem cell survival, differentiation, and engraftment. These experiments entail microsurgery, behavioral analysis, immunocytochemistry, stereological quantification of survival and fate, and electron microscopy. His laboratory has demonstrated that human neural stem cells differentiate into neurons, which form synaptic connections with an injured mouse host and oligodendrocytes, which remyelinate mouse axons. Subsequent behavioral improvements are abolished following selective ablation of engrafted human cells, demonstrating that human neural stem cells functionally integrate with their host and form meaningful connections (Cummings et al., PNAS, 2005, Hooshmand et al, PLoS One 2009). Cell-based therapeutic approaches are dependent upon immunosuppression in an otherwise normal animal or testing for proof of principal in immunodeficient models. This has significant implications for animal experiments and for human trials, where continuous immunosuppression may be required to obtain successful graft survival. Little is known about the direct effects of immunosuppressant drugs on neural stem cell proliferation or differentiation. His lab is currently examining the effects of immunosuppressants on human stem cell survival, proliferation and fate, as well as the interaction between cells of the immune system and stem cells. The lab is currently working with human embryonic stem cells (H9, HUES9 and Shef-3, Shef-4 and Shef-6), human amnion derived stem cells (from Stemnion LLC), and fetal derived neural stem cells (StemCells Inc). A new area of study focuses on the epigenetic changes that occur as cells are cultured or transitioned to xenofree (animal free) media conditions or exposed to biomaterials.

Requirements to Participate

COURSE COMPLETION: Bio194 Safety and Ethics Research Course. On the last day of instruction of both the fall and winter quarter, students are required to turn in a 1-2 page summary of work completed. This can include background information obtained by reading the literature, details about a technique learned, and/or data generated. At the end of spring quarter, this paper will be replaced with a 15-minute scientific talk presented to the lab. All 199s are required to attend these talks.

Time Commitment per Week

12 hrs/wk

Faculty Means of Evaluation

Quality of work and data collection, proper use of lab equipment, following appropriate lab and university-mandated safety protocols, initiative and overall enthusiasm for research.