David Rowitch is a Professor of Pediatrics and Neurosurgery and a HHMI Investigator at UCSF. He received his M.D. from UCLA and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Cambridge University. Dr. Rowitch trained in Pediatrics/Neonatology at Children's Hospital, Boston, and was postdoctoral research fellow with Andy McMahon. He began his own laboratory and was faculty at Harvard Medical School from 1996-2006. In 2006, he became Chief of Neonatology at UCSF and moved his laboratory to the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine.
Dr. Rowitch’s laboratory focuses on overlapping mechanisms in glial cell development, human neurological diseases. He has discovered functions of the bHLH transcription factors Olig1 and Olig2 essential for development of motor neurons, cortical interneurons and myelinating oligodendrocytes, as well as roles for Olig genes and the Wnt pathway in brain cancer, multiple sclerosis and neonatal white matter injury (NWMI), a complication in preterm infants that leads to cerebral palsy. Rowitch’s laboratory further investigates region-restricted origins of astrocytes as a way to understand functional diversity of this lineage and their precise roles in neural circuits.
He co-directs the Newborn Brain Research Institute, which brings together basic neuroscientists, pathologists and clinicians to generate novel approaches to the characterization, diagnosis and treatment of newborn neurological injuries. Rowitch opened the “Neurointensive Care Nursery (NICN)” at UCSF in 2008, which is a model for interdisciplinary care and serves as a platform for clinical research into neuroprotective therapies. Dr. Rowitch lead the first Phase I human clinical trial of neural stem cells as potential therapeutics for demyelinating diseases, focused on the rare and fatal congenital disorder, Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease (PMD).
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