Harley Kornblum, MD, PhD

Harley Kornblum, M.D., Ph.D. 

Professor in Residence


Harley Kornblum, MD, PhD, seeks to discover the key mechanisms that underlie normal brain development, how these systems can go awry in genetic disorders and cancers, and how the systems may be used for brain repair. Kornblum’s research ranges from basic research on the mechanisms of neural stem cell development to drug discovery studies for brain tumors.

One aspect of his research focuses on how stem cells within the brain and spinal cord generate more of themselves as well as other certain other specific cell types. He also studies how to use stem cells as models of human disease. He currently is working to develop a model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, using human embryonic stem cells and cells reprogrammed into embryonic-like cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells.

Dr. Kornblum also studies stem-like cells found within brain tumors, known as brain tumor stem cells, which are believed to be the root cause of the cancer. He’s studying how those cells proliferate and if that growth can be stopped. He hopes his work will aid in a new understanding of brain cancer, brain development and neurological disorders and will lead to the development of new and more effective therapies.

His focus on stem cell research was the result of his interest in brain development, which led him to work with neural stem cells.

A member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, Dr. Kornblum is the founding director of the Neural Stem Cell Research Center. He is also affiliated with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and is an investigator with the UCLA Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. A professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, pharmacology and pediatrics, Dr. Kornblum joined the UCLA faculty in 1989. He earned his doctorate and medical degrees at the University of California, Irvine.

Dr. Kornblum’s work is funded by the National Institutes of Health, Autism Speaks, the Broad Stem Cell Research Center and other foundations.