William Lowry, PhD
William Lowry, Ph.D., uses human embryonic stem cells to study the process by which the germ layer ectoderm splits into two lineages of distinct cell types, the cells of the nervous system and the outer skin layer.
Currently, working knowledge of human embryonic development is limited to extrapolations from data generated in mouse models. Dr. Lowry hopes his research results in a new understanding of the very basic mechanisms of human development and cancer, resulting in novel treatments for complex diseases. Dr. Lowry was instrumental in the reprogramming of human skin cells into embryonic-like cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells, which can become any cell in the human body. He, along with UCLA collaborators Drs. Kathrin Plath, Amander Clark and April Pyle, were the first scientists in California to reprogram skin cells into embryonic-like cells.
Dr. Lowry also is designing strategies to study the activity of various signaling pathways in skin stem cells to uncover the mechanisms regulating stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. His focus on skin stem cell research evolved because Lowry viewed it as the ideal tissue to study because of the ease of access and the already relatively broad knowledge base involving the cells.
Dr. Lowry is a member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center and a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology in the life sciences. He also holds the Maria Rowena Ross Term Chair in Cell Biology. He joined the UCLA faculty in 2006 from Rockefeller University. Dr. Lowry earned his Ph.D. from Cornell Medical College.
In addition to his Broad Stem Cell Research Center membership, Dr. Lowry also is affiliated with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Molecular Biology Institute and the International Society for Stem Cell Research, a nonprofit organization that fosters the exchange of stem cell research information.
Dr. Lowry’s work is funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, March of Dimes, the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation and the American Cancer Society.