Liver stem cell biology; differentiation; cell therapy; organogenesis; disease modeling; tissue engineering; multimodality molecular imaging; monitoring molecular events in living subjects
Dr. Parashurama is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at University at Buffalo, with an Adjunct Appointment in the department of Biomedical Engineering and strong affiliation with the UB clinical translational research center (CTRC). He is a chemical and biological engineer-physician with multi-disciplinary training in stem cell biology and imaging. The vision of his laboratory is to merge regenerative medicine (pluripotent, adult stem cells, cancer stem cells, tissue engineering) and molecular imaging (reporter genes, biomolecular probes, nanotechnology) to develop the next generation of diagnostics and therapeutics for hepatobiliary and pancreatic diseases, including developing 3D organs from stem cells and imaging stem cells in patients. His new laboratory is a 13-person group (3 PhD, 3 Masters, and 7 undergrads). He has the unique distinction of being trained on 3 NIH training grants (Biotechnology, Surgery, and Radiology) and in 3 major departments and centers (Department of Surgery-Center for Engineering in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the Department of Radiology-Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford, and the Department of OB/GYN-Center for Reproductive Sciences at University of California and California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, San Francisco (UCSF).
After his undergraduate training in Chemical Engineering and Biology at MIT, with training in liver tissue engineering (Mentor: Professor Toner), Dr. Parashurama attended medical school at UB, and then two years of general surgery residency at Boston University (BU). During his research years, he entered the doctoral program at Rutgers University in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, in the area of liver stem cell engineering (Mentor: Professor Martin Yarmush). As part of his doctoral work, he published one of the first papers isolating endoderm progenitor cells, precursors to liver and pancreas, from mouse PSC. His research was the first to show that these endoderm progenitor cells can actually form 3D tissue in living animals, and that endoderm has enhanced properties when cultivated on 3D hydrogels. In collaborative studies, he published one the first papers demonstrating the reversal of liver disease with stem cells, and one of the first papers integrating microfabrication with stem cell culture. He also investigated the dynamic gene networks that control endoderm, liver, and pancreatic cell fate. Intrigued by the ability of stem cells to make 3D tissues, he entered postdoctoral training to combine regenerative medicine and molecular imaging at Stanford University (Mentor: Professor Sanjiv Gambhir). He was motivated by the lack of understanding of stem cell fate upon transplantation, and the inability to monitor stem cell fate in living subjects. He focused on developing an array of imaging tools, organized around the concept of stem cell-mediated organogenesis. Here he published studies demonstrating non-invasive imaging, by bioluminescent reporter gene imaging, of stem genetic networks in vivo. He also performed one of the first studies demonstrating, by intravital microscopy, that cancer stem cells share growth properties with adult stem cells, and that they remodel normal, endogenous epithelial cells during early tumor formation. He learned the only technique that has been used image stem cell therapy and gene therapy in patients, called a positron emission tomography (PET) reporter gene combined with nanoparticle MRI imaging. He then performed the first limit of detection study of this technology in a model of stem cell therapy in large animals. Motivated by the concept of stem cell-mediated organogenesis, he obtained a California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) fellowship as he continued training at UCSF in human stem cells and human development (Mentor: Susan Fisher), before starting his new lab. Currently, his lab studies synthetic and systems biology to reengineering human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived endoderm, the engineering of smart functional liver organoids, the differentiation of hPSC towards the islet cells of the pancreas, molecular imaging of immune cells in cancer metastasis, and molecular noninvasive imaging of transcription factors in hPSC during differentiation.