Amittha Wickrema, Ph.D.

APPOINTMENTS

  • Professor, Department of Medicine - Section of Hematology/Oncology, Cancer Research Center, Committee on Cancer Biology, Committee on Molecular Medicine/MPMM
  • Director, Clinical Cell Therapy Laboratory (University of Chicago Hospitals)
  • Director, cGMP Cellular Manufacturing Core Facility (Biological Sciences Division)

EDUCATION

Ph.D., Miami University

Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University

CONTACT INFORMATION

The University of Chicago
KCBD 7140
900 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

awickrem@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu

Phone: (773) 702-4615

RESEARCH SUMMARY

Signaling Pathways Regulating Normal and Malignant Hematopoiesis

The focus of our group is on the study of normal and malignant hematopoiesis. Our work over the years have entailed studying the signaling pathways underlying lineage commitment and terminal differentiation of adult blood/bone marrow stem cells into erythroid cells. A human in vitro primary cell culture model developed by our group has been pivotal in our efforts in understanding the signal transduction pathways and molecular mechanisms that regulate cell survival, proliferation and differentiation into mature red blood cells.  These efforts have identified the key pathways as well as cytokines that regulate the overall red blood cell production. Our group has active collaborations with multiple research groups both at University of Chicago and around the country. 

1.     The current work include projects that are focused on understanding the precise functional and prognostic implications of specific mutations as seen in myelodysplastic  syndromes  (MDS), a group of malignant blood disorders . These studies include designing novel strategies for therapeutic intervention using the knowledge gained by the DNA sequence information publicly available to the scientific community. 

2.     A second line of investigation focuses on understanding the epigenetic signals that permit lineage commitment of blood/morrow stem cells and molecular mechanisms underlying terminal events in human erythroid differentiation program. This includes studying the biological pathways that permit the extrusion of the nucleus, which is exclusive to most mammalian red blood cells.

3.    A third line of investigation focuses on developing methods for using blood stem cells and partially differentiated blood cells for treatment of anemia and other blood disorders as cell replacement therapies. A key goal of this research is to devise strategies that will lead to creation of low cost high value cellular therapy products. 

View Research Papers on PubMed