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Christopher Navara, Ph.D.

Dr. Navara’s research focuses on the cellular biology of pluripotent stem cells. In particular Dr. Navara is interested in the utility of pluripotent stem cells to model human disease in vitro and in using cells derived from pluripotent stem cells as treatments for diseases such as diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. The repeated clinical failures of therapies for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease indicate the need for additional preclinical models of these complex conditions. Pluripotent stem cells can be made into any cell of the body and thus hold great promise for the treatment of diseases ranging from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Navara’s group is using non-human primates as preclinical models for the safe testing and optimization of these therapies prior to use in the clinic.

Pluripotent stem cells also enable the study of human disease in a dish. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive degenerative disease resulting in the loss of nerve cells in the brain. Samples from human patients are difficult to obtain and animal models may not faithfully mimic the disease. Using human pluripotent stem cells, Dr. Navara’s research group can make human nerve cells from Alzheimer patients, test their biology to better understand the disease, and test new potential therapies that may slow or stop its progression.

Dr. Navara received a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.