Researcher’s Profile

Lei Ding, PhD

Body: 

B. S. Peking University, Beijing, China, 2001

Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder, 2001-2006

Postdoctroal Fellow University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2007-2011

Postdoctoral Fellow UT Southwestern, 2011-2013

Assistant Professor, Columbia University Medical Center, 2013-present

Research Statement: 

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are rare self-renewing cells that can generate the whole blood system throughout life. They are widely used in clinics to treat a number of hematopoietic disorders. But the rareness of HSCs has been hindering the safer and broader use of HSCs in clinics. Each year, thousands of lives can not be saved through HSC transplantation due to the insufficient supply of HSCs. Despite decades of efforts, no culture systems are available to maintain and expand HSCs in vitro. Yet, in vivo, HSCs robustly self-renew. We believe that understanding the microenvironmental niche in vivo is the key to solve this unmet medical challenge. In the lab, we are focusing elucidating the niche mechanisms that maintain HSCs in homeostasis and expand HSCs during development using genetically modified mouse models. As the bone marrow niche is increasingly appreciated as an important contributor to hematopoietic diseases, we also study the niche mechanisms in hematopoietic malignancies.