Anna La Torre

image of Anna La Torre

Assistant Professor

Departments

Cell Biol & Human Anatomy

Offices and Labs

3311 Tupper Hall
752-9103

Profile Introduction

The goal of our research is to decipher the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal progenitor competence and differentiation using a combination of Stem Cell lines, transgenic mouse models and biochemical approaches. We use the retina as a model system due to its relatively simple cytoarchitecture and high accessibility. Some of the projects that we are currently pursuing in the laboratory are: (1) Role of microRNAs in the dynamic regulation of progenitor competence during retinal histogenesis. (2) Mechanisms of cone photoreceptor fate determination. (3) Early retinal specification and eye field formation. Additionally, the retina can be affected by a number of diseases that lead to progressive cell loss and ultimately blindness. These devastating conditions affect millions of people worldwide. Recently, advances in embryonic stem cell (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technologies have raised the possibility of custom-built cells for in vitro studies, drug screening and cell replacement therapies. In this direction, our group has successfully differentiated ESCs and iPSCs into a variety of retinal cell types including photoreceptors and Retinal Ganglion Cells.

Degrees

2008 PhD Neurobiology University of Barcelona - IRBB Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Barcelona
2003 B.S. Biology University of Barcelona

Research Interests

Molecular Mechanisms of Stem Cell Differentiation in the Central Nervous System

All the cells of the Central Nervous System are derived from a common pool of neuronal stem cells. Neuronal progenitors are intrinsically limited such that a particular progenitor can only differentiate into a subset of cell types at a given time during development. A broadly accepted model proposes that progenitor cells progressively change their competence to generate different cell populations as development proceeds.

The goal of our research is to decipher the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal progenitor competence and differentiation using a combination of cell lines, transgenic mouse models and biochemical approaches. We use the mouse retina as a model system due to its relatively simple cytoarchitecture and high accessibility.

Additionally, the retina can be affected by a number of diseases that lead to progressive cell loss and ultimately irreversible blindness.  These devastating conditions affect millions of people worldwide. Recently, advances in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technologies have raised the possibility of custom-built cells for in vitro studies, drug screening and cell replacement therapies. In this direction, our group has successfully differentiated hESC and iPSCs into a variety of retinal cell types.  Currently, we are implementing novel strategies to differentiate ESCs into photoreceptors and Retinal Ganlgion Cells for cell replacement therapies.

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Specialties / Focus

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Differentiation, Morphogenesis and Wound Healing
  • Developmental Biology
  • Neurobiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cell Biology
  • Vision