Ernest Arenas group

We study midbrain dopaminergic neuron development and stem cells and direct reprogramming for Parkinson’s disease (PD) cell replacement therapy and drug discovery.

Research areas

Midbrain dopaminergic neuron development

  • Characterizing the molecular cascades that regulate midbrain stem cell behavior as well as dopaminergic neurogenesis, differentiation and subtype specification.
  • The functions of Wnts, their receptors and their signaling pathways, with focus on new components of the Wnt/PCP signaling.
  • The function of nuclear receptors and their ligands in midbrain dopaminergic neuron development.
  • The identification of novel factors by single cell transcriptomic, proteomic and lipidomic approaches.
  • Control of midbrain dopaminergic neurogenesis by basic-helix-loop-helix transcription factors.

Stem cells and direct reprogramming for Parkinson’s disease (PD) cell replacement therapy and drug discovery

  • Improving protocols for the efficient differentiation of human stem cells (NES, ES, and iPS cells) into substantia nigra A9 dopaminergic neurons for cell replacement therapy and drug discovery.
  • Develop 2D and 3D in vitro models of midbrain tissue for PD drug discovery using human NES/ES/iPS cells with PD mutations and isogenic controls.
  • Examine the role of Wnt signaling in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Improve protocols for the direct in vitro reprogramming of somatic cells into substantia nigra A9 dopaminergic neurons.
  • Develop a novel cell replacement therapy for PD based on the direct in vivo reprogramming of striatal astrocytes in situ, into functional A9 dopaminergic neurons.

Post-doctoral positions

Please, send your inquiries by e-mail to and include the following information:

  • CV with publications and research experience
  • A brief outline of research interests


Selected publications

Staff and contact

Group leader

All members of the group

Cell and Molecular Biology Medical Biotechnology (focus on Cell Biology (incl. Stem Cell Biology), Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry or Biopharmacy) Neurosciences
Content reviewer:
Sara Lidman