Division of Neuropathology

Faculty, Staff & Students

Vasiliki Machairaki, Ph.D. Vasiliki Machairaki, Ph.D.

We use a wide range of molecular biology and stem cell biology techniques to investigate neurodegenerative disease. We have successfully developed a simplified, efficient system allowing for the controlled conversion of human ES cells to the neural lineage using adherent monolayer conditions. This approach enabled the generation of human ES cell-derived neural precursors that show substantial promise with respect to neuronal differentiation after grafting in the adult rat brain. To optimize the process of neuronal differentiation and dendrite/axon formation in vitro, we have employed an approach combining nanobiotechnology with stem cell methodologies, and I have successfully shown robust neuronal differentiation along biocompatible synthetic nanofibrous scaffolds. My main research focus in recent years has been the reprogramming of differentiated cell types, such as human fibroblasts, into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and the application of this technology to studies of the nervous system and the diseases that affect it. I have been working on the generation of iPSCs from familial Alzheimer disease (FAD) patients using recent developments in reprogramming strategies such as non-integrating episomal vectors to produce virus-free, clinically safe cells. My research goal is to generate isogenic iPSC lines and develop in vitro models of Alzhemeir's disease based on induced pluripotent stem cells. Our work can make a significant contribution to the understanding of mechanisms and the developing of new therapeutics for AD and related neurodegenerative diseases.


  1. Nasonkin I, Mahairaki V, Xu L, Hatfield G, Cummings B, Eberhart C, Ryugo DK Maric D, Bar E and Koliatsos VE: Long-Term stable differentiation of human embryonic stem cell-derived neural precursors grafted into the adult mammalian neostriatum, Stem Cells. 2009 Oct;27(10):2414-26.
  2. Mahairaki, V., Lim, S.H., Christopherson, G.T, Xu, L., Nasonkin, I., Yu, C., Mao, H.Q., and Koliatsos, V.E. Nanofiber Matrices Promote the Neuronal Differentiation of Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Neural Precursors In Vitro. Tissue Eng Part A. 2010 Dec 18.
  3. Bar, E.E., Lin, A., Mahairaki, V., Matsui, W., and Eberhart C.G. Hypoxia increases the expression of stem-cell markers and promotes clonogenicity in glioblastoma neurospheres. Am J Pathol. 2010 Sep;177(3):1491-502.
  4. Burridge P., Thompson S., Millrod MA., Weinberg W., Yuan X., Peters A., Mahairaki V., Koliatsos VE. Tung L., and Zambidis ET. A universal system for highly efficient cardiac differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells that eliminates interline variability. PLoS ONE 2011 April 8; 6(4): e18293.
  5. Xu L., Mahairaki V., and Koliatsos VE. Host induction by transplanted neural stem cells in the spinal cord : further evidence for an adult spinal cord neurogenic niche. Regen Med. 2012 Nov;7(6):785-97.