Leadership and Key Members
Hanna Mikkola, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Hanna Mikkola studies how blood stem cells are generated during embryonic development and how their ability to self-renew and give rise to differentiated blood cell types is orchestrated by cues from their micro-environment.
Her lab uses genetically modified mouse models and mouse and human embryonic stem cells to identify the regulatory pathways that govern blood stem cell development and differentiation. As many of these regulators are involved both in normal blood cell development and in blood cancers, understanding how these regulators work will be crucial for unraveling the regulatory mechanisms that are disturbed in leukemias.
Dr. Mikkola became interested in blood stem cells during her post doctoral training in Lund, Sweden, where she developed gene therapy tools to introduce genes into blood stem cells. She hopes the discoveries from her lab will make blood stem cell-based therapies safer and more broadly available, and shed light on how the mechanisms governing the ability of stem cells to self-renew are exploited in leukemias.
A member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center and an associate professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology in the life sciences, Dr. Mikkola came to UCLA from Harvard in 2005. She is affiliated with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Molecular Biology Institute. She serves on the board of directors for the International Society for Hematology and Stem Cells and is a chair of the Junior Investigators Committee for the International Society for Stem Cell Research. She earned both her doctorate and medical degrees at the University of Helsinki in Finland.
Dr. Mikkola has received scholar awards from the American Society of Hematology and V-Foundation for Cancer research. Her work currently is funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.