Leanne Jones, PhD

Leanne  Jones, PhD 



Leanne Jones, PhD, focuses her research on uncovering the consequences of aging on stem cell behavior in order to identify what leads to degenerative age-related diseases to develop potential regenerative medicine strategies for using tissue stem cells to treat age-onset diseases.

Dr. Jones and her laboratory colleagues use fruit fly Drosphila melanogaster as a model to study the ways stem cell behavior is controlled. This fruit fly model supports adult human stem cells in a way similar to how the cells are supported in mammals which makes it possible to study stem cells in their normal environment, or niche, without destroying the surrounding tissue. Studying stem cells in a living organism helps answer questions about how the niche controls stem cell self-renewal and survival, and how the relationship between stem cells and the niche evolve during growth and development. It also allows study of the cells’ responses to changes in metabolism that come abruptly or over time. Jones and her colleagues are translating their findings from stem cells in fruit flies to mouse and eventually human systems.

Loss of tissue and organ function are characteristic of aging, and these changes have been attributed to decreases in stem cell function. The primary risk factor for many degenerative diseases, metabolic disorders, and cancer, is increased age. By studying the factors that contribute to decreased stem cell function caused by aging, Dr. Jones is seeking the changes that could be most easily targeted for treatment.

Before her arrival at UCLA in January of 2013, Dr. Jones was an adjunct assistant professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of California San Diego, and an assistant professor of laboratory genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, both in La Jolla, CA. She received her PhD from Harvard Medical School and her undergraduate degree at Washington and Lee University. She is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Cancer Research, American Society for Cell Biology and Women in Cancer Research, among many other professional organizations.

Dr. Jones’ research is funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA.