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Neurosurgery & Brain Repair

Center of Excellence for Aging & Brain Repair

Neural Transplantation Laboratory

Directed by Cesar V. Borlongan, Ph.D., the Neural Transplantation Laboratory is a highly translational preclinical research laboratory focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological disorders, with an eye towards discovering novel, safe, and effective interventions that facilitate nervous system protection and repair. The laboratory utilizes transplantation of various stem cell types, trophic factors, neuroprotective, and neurorestorative compounds in clinically relevant animal models of human neurological disorders, and employs multi-disciplinary approaches to evaluate the efficacy and mechanisms of action of these stem cell-based therapies, as pivotal parameters for their clinical application.

The laboratory is home to a number of productive Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DoD), and National Institutes of Health (NIH)- funded projects, and by embodying the translational bench to clinic approach, it has produced 5 FDA-approved clinical trials of cell transplantation, including the world’s first cell therapy in stroke patients.

  • Translational

    Stem Cell Therapy

    Director: Cesar Borlongan, Ph.D.

    CESAR V. BORLONGAN, Ph.D. is a world leader in stem cell therapy for stroke. He served as an NIH Staff Fellow for 5 years, joined the academe in 2002, becoming a Professor in the Department of Neurology at the Medical College of Georgia, with continuous multiple federal funding from VA, DoD, and NIH. He is an author of more than 270 peer-reviewed publications, lead editor of 2 books, and serves as editor of many scientific journals, including Stem Cells, JCBFM, PLoS One, and Brain Research.

    He is a regular study section member of NIH, VA, and AHA, chairs the State of Maryland Stem Cell Research Funds, among other funding agencies. He serves as Vice President of the International Placenta Stem Cell Society. He was elected in 2012 as AAAS Fellow. He was featured in The Lancet Neurology "Lifeline" of 2008.

  • Stem Cell


    Director: Naoki Tajiri, Ph.D.

    NAOKI TAJIRI, P.T., Ph.D. champions translational biomedical research in advancing combined stem cell and rehabilitation therapy for neurological disorders. He pioneered the novel brain repair mechanism of stem cell-paved biobridges as a key substrate in guiding the host cells to reach their destination even across non-neurogenic and injured tissues. His background is in regenerative medicine with specialized training in stem cell biology and rehabilitation therapy.

  • Stem Cell


    Director: Yuji Kaneko, Ph. D.

    YUJI KANEKO, Ph. D. aims to bridge the knowledge gap between basic science investigations and clinical applications. His experiments are designed to explore the molecular mechanisms of gene/protein expression and modifications underlying ischemic or oxidative stress-induced cell death, with special emphasis on exploiting the dynamic role of specific proteins for therapeutic intervention.

Federally Funded Current Projects

  • Blood Brain Barrier Repair for Cell Therapy in Stroke
    This study will evaluate the role of BBB as a target for endothelial progenitor cell grafts in stroke.
    National Institutes of Health
  • Battlefield–Related Injury Translational Research, Post-Traumatic Disease and Disability-Veterans Reintegration Strategy
    To test the hypothesis that G-CSF reduces neurobehavioral deficits in an animal model of TBI.
    Department of Defense
  • Reinforcing the Repair Response to Traumatic Brain Injury
    To test the hypothesis that G-CSF reduces neurobehavioral deficits in an animal model of TBI.
    Veterans Affairs

Current Publications

Tajiri N, Acosta SA, Shahaduzzaman M, Ishikawa H, Shinozuka K, Pabon M, Hernandez-Ontiveros D, Kim DW, Metcalf C, Staples M, Dailey T,Vasconcellos J, Franyuti G, Gould L, Patel N, Cooper D, Kaneko Y, Borlongan CV, Bickford PC (2014). Intravenous transplants of human adipose-derived stem cell protect the brain from traumatic brain injury-induced neurodegeneration and motor and cognitive impairments: cell graft biodistribution and soluble factors in young and aged rats. J Neurosci 34(1):313-326.

Acosta SA, Diamond DM, Wolfe S, Tajiri N, Shinozuka K, Ishikawa H, Hernandez DG, Sanberg PR, Kaneko Y, Borlongan CV (2013). Influence of post-traumatic stress disorder on neuroinflammation and cell proliferation in a rat model of traumatic brain injury. PLoS One 8(12):e81585.

Kaneko Y, Tajiri N, Shojo H, Borlongan CV. Oxygen-glucose-deprived rat primary neural cells exhibit dj-1 translocation into healthy mitochondria: a potent stroke therapeutic target. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2013 Dec 30. doi:10.1111/cns.12208. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24382215.

Tajiri N, Kellogg SL, Shimizu T, Arendash GW, Borlongan CV (2013). Traumatic brain injury precipitates cognitive impairment and extracellular aβ aggregation in Alzheimer's disease transgenic mice. PLoS One 8(11):e78851.

Ishikawa H, Tajiri N, Shinozuka K, Vasconcellos J, Kaneko Y, Lee HJ, Mimura O, Dezawa M, Kim SU, Borlongan CV (2013). Vasculogenesis in experimental stroke after human cerebral endothelial cell transplantation. Stroke 44(12):3473-81.

Kaneko Y, Shojo H, Burns J, Staples M, Tajiri N, Borlongan CV (2014). DJ-1 ameliorates ischemic cell death in vitro possibly via mitochondrial pathway. Neurobiol Dis 62:56-61.

Tajiri N, Kaneko Y, Shinozuka K, Ishikawa H, Yankee E, McGrogan M, Case C, Borlongan CV (2013). Stem cell recruitment of newly formed host cells via a successful seduction? Filling the gap between neurogenic niche and injured brain site. PLoS One 8(9):e74857.

Ishikawa H, Tajiri N, Vasconcellos J, Kaneko Y, Mimura O, Dezawa M, Borlongan CV (2013). Ischemic stroke brain sends indirect cell death signals to the heart. Stroke 44(11):3175-82.