Dr. Anna Falk Department of Neuroscience – The European Neuroscience Institute at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm

  • Young Investigator

Reprogramming to Model Diseases

About Dr. Anna Falk

We are interested in how the correct size and organization of the human brain is established and the role of proper neural stem cell regulation in the process. Studies of human brain development in health and disease have until recently been close to impossible due to lack of relevant tissue to study. We use reprogramming, iPS cells and neural differentiation as tools to derive the relevant cells to study. We are currently studying neurodevelopmental disorders like, Down Syndrome, ASD, monogenetic intellectual disabilities in addition to Alzheimer’s disease. We reprogram patient cells to iPS cells, which we use to derive neural stem cells and neurons for our in vitro studies. We compare patient and control neural stem cells and neurons in processes like proliferation, differentiation, migration, apoptosis, and functionality of neurons. We have detected diseases phenotypes in patient specific neural stem cells and/or neurons of the diseases we thus far have studied. For example, neural stem cells of Down syndrome patients proliferate slower then neural stem cells from healthy people. We are currently studying the molecular background of the slow expansion of the neural progenitor cells.

For further information, please also see: http://www.neuro.ki.se/falk/

5 Selected Publications

Wu S, Johansson J, Damdimopoulou P, Shahsavani M, Falk A, Hovatta O, Rising A. Spider silk for xeno-free long-term self-renewal and differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells. Biomaterials. 2014 Oct;35(30):8496-502 PMID: 25043502

Zhang D, Pekkanen-Mattila M, Shahsavani M, Falk A, Teixeira AI, Herland A. A 3D Alzheimer's disease culture model and the induction of P21-activated kinase mediated sensing in iPSC derived neurons. Biomaterials. 2013 Nov 27. doi:pii: S0142-9612(13)01381-1. 10.1016

Tailor J., Kittappa R., Leto K., Gates M., Borel M., Paulsen O., Spitzer S., Karadottir RT., Rossi F., Falk A., Smith A. (2013) Stem cells expanded from the human embryonic hindbrain stably retain regional specification and high neurogenic potency. J. Neurosci., 33(30) : 12407-22.

Falk R., Falk A., Dyson MR., Melidoni A., Parthiban K., Young J., Roake W., McCafferty J. (2012) Generation of anti-Notch antibodies and their application in blocking Notch signalling in neural stem cells. Methods, 58 (1) : 69-78.

Falk A., Koch P., Kesavan J., Takashima Y., Ladewig J., et al. (2012) Capture of neuroepithelial-like stem cells from pluripotent stem cells provides a versatile system for in vitro production of human neurons. PLoS One, 7 (1) : e29597.

Awards, Fellowships and Honours

2014             Young investigator grant from SSF (Swedish foundation for strategic research
2012           Assistant Professorship from StratNeuro Network
2010           VINNOVA, Marie Curie international Career Development Fellow
2009           Postdoctoral Fellowship, Swedish Brain Foundation (Hjärnfonden)
2007           Postdoctoral Fellowship,Swedish Research Council (VR)

Technical Expertise

  • Stem cells
  • Disease modeling using reprogramming
  • Neurological disorders
  • Molecular and cellular mechanisms causing diseases phenotypes
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders/ neurodegenerative disorders