Professor of Stem Cell Neurobiology at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics since 2002.
Ernest Arenas work aims at developing regenerative therapies for Parkinson's disease. Work in this area integrates molecular, cellular and biochemical techniques, and involves both in vitro and in vivo studies. Of particular interest are specific aspects of midbrain and dopamine neuron development, stem cell biology, as well as biotechnology related to the development of medical applications of stem cells for Parkinson's disease.
Research focuses on mainly four areas:
1) Midbrain dopaminergic neuron development. The research group is interested in the control and regulation of the specification, neurogenesis and dopaminergic differentiation by transcription and secreted factors. Particular attention is paid to the identification of novel secreted factors by genomic and proteomic approaches, and to the function of known secreted factors such as Wnts, their receptors, their signaling pathways and transcriptional control.
2) Fundamental aspects of Wnt signaling. How does Dishevelled transmit canonical versus non-canonical Wnt signals? Is there an interaction or cooperation between canonical and non-canonical Wnt signals?
3) Developing therapies the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. This inlcudes the development of stem cell-based in vitro assays for drug discovery and of stem cell-based regenerative approaches in vivo.
4) Implementation of novel technologies such as nanobiology and bioelectronics to stem cell biology. Here we aim at engineering smart surfaces to stir stem cell function, instruct their dopaminergic differentiation and develop cell-based assays.