Hanna Mikkola, MD, PhD

Hanna Mikkola, MD, PhD 



Dr. Hanna Mikkola studies how blood stem cells are generated during embryonic development and how their ability to self-renew and give rise to differentiated blood cell types is orchestrated by cues from their micro-environment.

Her lab uses genetically modified mouse models and mouse and human embryonic stem cells to identify the regulatory pathways that govern blood stem cell development and differentiation. As many of these regulators are involved both in normal blood cell development and in blood cancers, understanding how these regulators work will be crucial for unraveling the regulatory mechanisms that are disturbed in leukemias.

Dr. Mikkola became interested in blood stem cells during her post doctoral training in Lund, Sweden, where she developed gene therapy tools to introduce genes into blood stem cells. She hopes the discoveries from her lab will make blood stem cell-based therapies safer and more broadly available, and shed light on how the mechanisms governing the ability of stem cells to self-renew are exploited in leukemias.

A member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center and professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology in the life sciences, Dr. Mikkola came to UCLA from Harvard in 2005. She is affiliated with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Molecular Biology Institute. She serves on the board of directors for the International Society for Hematology and Stem Cells and is a chair of the Junior Investigators Committee for the International Society for Stem Cell Research. She earned both her doctorate and medical degrees at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Dr. Mikkola has received scholar awards from the American Society of Hematology and V-Foundation for Cancer research. Her work currently is funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.



Beating Heart Muscle Cells
Scientists led by Dr. Hanna Mikkola of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center at UCLA have generated beating cardiomyocytes, or heart muscle cells, from blood forming tissue.
The Placental Niche
Dr. Hanna Mikkola and post-doctoral fellow, Akanksha Chhabra, discuss their discovery of a critical placental niche cell and signaling pathway that prevents blood precursors from premature differentiation in the placenta, a process that is necessary for ensuring proper blood supply for an individual's lifetime.