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Growing up during the age of AIDS, Marcos Garcia-Ojeda knew he wanted to make a difference regarding the spread of this global epidemic. Now, as a stem cell researcher, he hopes that someday, in addition to fighting HIV with anti-retroviral drugs, doctors will be able to strengthen the immune system using healthy cells created from blood marrow stem cells.
Signals from the environment, either from other cells or soluble factors, can activate a genetic program within the stem cell, inducing its differentiation into a particular cell type. The activation of a genetic program is mirrored by the silencing of other alternative genetic programs. In this way, the stem cell reaches a point where it is irreversibly committed to a particular cell fate.
Using the hematopoetic (bone marrow) stem cell as a model, Garcia-Ojeda`s team studies the microenvironmental and genetic signals required for stem cell function and lymphocyte development.
In particular, he is interested in the role of the transcription factor GATA-3 in the commitment and differentiation of stem cells into T cells.
Professor Garcia-Ojeda can provide expert commentary on hematopoetic stem cells (bone marrow stem cells), cell fate decisions, immunological avenues in stem cell research, and HIV and AIDS research.
He earned his Ph.D. in 2002 from Stanford University, his M.A. in 1992 from UC Santa Cruz, and his B.S. in 1990 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.