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Matthew Bosco
Matthew Bosco

Director of Administrative and Financial Operations

Mr. Bosco has worked within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery for over six years. Mr. Bosco has served as a financial analyst for the Growth and Development Laboratory and for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. In March 2006 he served as the Research Administrator for the Stem Cell Research Center.

In July 2007, he was promoted to the position of Research Manager of the Stem Cell Research Center. Mr. Bosco has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s in Business Administration from Robert Morris University. He received his Certification as a Research Administrator in December of 2008.  He is also a member of the “Society for Research Administrators International.”

Mr. Bosco oversees all of the finances and administration for the Stem Cell Research Center.

William Chen
William Chen, M.D., PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Chen has graduated with a PhD in Bioengineering from the SCRC. He is currently continuing his postdoctoral research which is focused upon the identification and characterization of potential stem/progenitor cell populations in the heart.


Jim Cummins
Senior Scientist

Mr. Cummins has been with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for the past twenty-one years. Beginning in the Department of Medical Genetics as a Cytogenetics Technologist, Mr. Cummins successfully rose to the position of Laboratory Manager there before accepting the same position and title with Dr. Huard in the Growth and Development Laboratory in 1999. After 6 productive years as Laboratory Manager, he accepted a promotion to the position of Manager of Research in January of 2006. Mr. Cummins now serves as the Senior Scientist for the Stem Cell Research Center (SCRC).

Mr. Cummins has a firm understanding of the ongoing science being performed in the laboratory, and currently acts as the lead research scientist in the SCRC. His scientific background and knowledge, combined with his keen understanding of institutional policy, make him a uniquely valuable asset to the aims and to the people of the SCRC.

Michelle Darabant

Fiscal and Grants Administrator






Xueqin Gao, M.D., Ph.D,

Postdoctoral  Associate

Dr. Gao's Interests

Research Interest:   My research is to focus on the human muscle derived stem cells based bone and cartilage healing and the interaction of the donor stem cell and host cell. Based on the pioneer study in our lab, most healing bone tissue cells are derived from host cells, but donor cells play important role.  So, I am interested mostly in characterizing the paracrine factors of different populations  of   human muscle derived stem cells in vitro. And then I will test the healing effect of the muscle stem cell with different subpopulation isolated from human muscle derived stem cell.  I am going to investigate on the contribution of the different host cells such as inflammatory cells, immune cells, and mesenchyme cells and other cells in the stem cell based bone and cartilage healing.  This lay foundation for the translational research of muscle derived stem cell therapy.




Johnny Huard, Ph.D.
SCRC Director

Dr. Huard became the Director of the Growth and Development Laboratory in 1996. Since that time, the laboratory has more than tripled in size with more than 50 diverse professionals (including basic scientists, residents, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and administrative staff).

Dr. Huard’s main research focus is gene therapy to skeletal muscle, and he has received international recognition for his research discoveries in this area. He started to concentrate his efforts on gene therapy at the Masters level of his schooling, completing both his masters and doctoral graduate studies. He also serves within the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine as the Deputy Director for Cellular Therapeutics, at the Center for Cell Therapeutics as director, as Associate Director of the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative.

For more information visit our History page.

Dr. Yohei Kawakami

Orthopaedic Fellow


Dr. Makoto Kobayshi

Orthopaedic Fellow


Mitra Lavasani, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Lavasani is a research assistant professor at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology at San Jose State University and her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh under the mentorship of Dr. Johnny Huard. At the SCRC, her multidisciplinary research explores the use of muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs) transplantation to enhance axonal/glial regeneration and provide functional recovery to peripheral nervous system (PNS) injuries in murine experimental models. Her proposed stem cell-based therapy concept is based upon the ability of transplanted stem cells to transform into specific tissue cell types or to participate in the recovery process by reducing axonal degeneration and scar formation, while promoting myelination. Her models evaluate th potential for MDSCs to adopt a Schwann cell (PNS supporting cell) phenotype in vitro and in vivo, and examine their plasticity in response to environmental cues to support nerve fiber regeneration and re-myelination.

Dr. Lavasani is also working on characterizing the role of aging using murine experimental models of genetically engineered mice with dramatically shortened lifespan with age-related pathologies. Her goal is to use wild type MDSCs-transplantation to delay or ameliorate the pathologies associated with aging using the mouse models of progeroid ERCC1-XPF-deficient mice.

She has won multiple awards, including the New Investigator Recognition Award (NIRA) at 53rd Annual ORS Meeting (2007); first place in the Scientific Retreat Poster Contest for Cellular Therapies at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (2007); Chancellor's Outstanding Student, University of Pittsburgh (2006); New Investigator Recognition Award (NIRA) Candidate at the 51st Annual ORS Meeting (2005); and Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards, University of Pittsburgh, Bioengineering Department (2005).

Hongshuai Li  MD, PhD

Dr. Li is an Orthopaedics Post-doc Research Fellow working in the Stem Cell Research Center performing basic and translational research in the area of bone and cartilage regeneration.  His major area of study in the lab, currently, is the use of Muscle derived stem cell (MDSC) and platelet rich plasma (PRP) to improve the healing of bone and cartilage.  He will be involved with creating bone and cartilage related animal models. He will also be involved with cell preparation, evaluation of different fractions of cells obtained from mouse skeletal muscle to identify the cell population with the greatest chondrogenic or osteogenic potential, tissue processing, data acquisition, and data analysis. All the knowledge and techniques gained from his work with animals will be applied to his future research with human skeletal cells.



Aiping Lu, M.D.

Dr. Lu is responsible for the isolation, identification and characterization of muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs). The researchers at the SCRC have already tried to isolate MDSCs by modifying a method called the preplate technique to obtain clonal colonies from mice of different ages and gender. Recently we have identified and isolated MDSC clones having different, unique characteristics.

My main project entails theregeneration of functional muscle by MDSC transplantation. It has been demonstrated that the use of muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs) can circumvent hurdles facing myoblast transfer therapy, consequently improve the efficiency of muscle regeneration and dystrophin delivery to dystrophic muscle. We have transplanted MDSCs into the gastrocnemius muscle of younger MDX mice in an attempt to improve muscle force. Furthermore, we are using NGF stimulated and NGF transduced MDSCs since we have recently observed that ex vivo NGF-stimulated MDSCs can significantly promote muscle regeneration upon injection. These studies are still underway.


Xiadong Mu, Ph.D.

My research is related with skeletal muscle regeneration and the administration of muscle derived stem cells for regenerative medicine. I have been studying whether multipotent stem cells can be induced by dedifferentiation/reprogramming of differentiated myoblasts or skin cells and whether the induced stem cells can contribute to skeletal muscle regeneration in mammals. I am also investigating the mechanisms of various protein factors in influencing the effect of myoblast/stem cell transplantation and preventing fibrosis formation in injured or diseased skeletal muscle. The main factors I am studying in my projects include: TGF-βs, Msx-1, Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs), and the insulin-like hormone relaxin.

I got my master's degree from Beijing University (China) and Ph.D. degree from University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Nicholas Oyster, B.S.





Undergraduate: University of Rochester, 1999-2004

Biomedical Engineering

Graduate: University of Pittsburgh, 2008-present

Bioengineering master’s student


My early research focused on the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and its regulation by AMP-activated kinase (AMPK).  However, my interests returned to biomedical research, specifically, tissue engineering thus I joined the Plastic Surgery Research Lab in 2008. There, I studied the use of adipose-tissue-derived stem cells (ASCs) in tissue repair and regeneration. I joined the Stem Cell Research Center in November 2010 to begin my work studying muscle-derived stem cells. My research here focuses on the use of stem cells for tissue repair and/or regeneration. I am currently studying the effects stem cell therapy has on muscle repair following muscle injury, specifically, injuries due to the compression of tissue during compartment syndrome.  Another study I am working on is characterizing platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and determining what effects PRP has on stem cell proliferation and differentiation. PRP offers an exciting possibility of using autologous growth factors to treat disease and repair tissue damage.

Kunj Patel, MD





Tess Petropoulos

Administrative Assistant


Jennifer Smith

Fiscal and Grants Administrator


Jihee Sohn

Graduate Student


Jihee’s main project involves isolating mouse Adipose derived stem cells (ADSCs) from young and old Wild type (Wt), mdx, and dKO mice and characterizing them by examining their proliferation and multi-lineage differentiation capacities in vitro. Her projects also involve investigating origin of cells responsible for ectopic fat cell formation in skeletal muscle in DMD and examining mechanism of increased adipogenesis in skeletal muscle.  Finally, she is also investigating means to rescue functions of muscle derived stem cells (MDSCs) from aged and dystrophic mice by co-culturing defective MDSCs obtained from dKO with healthy adipose derived stem cells obtained from young, unaffected mice. 


Ying Tang
Ying Tang
Research Technician

Mrs. Ying Tang is a Technician at the Division of Molecular Therapeutics, SCRC and is responsible for the daily research activities of many different lab projects which are focused around vector creation for gene therapy uses. For more information, please check the page of Dr. Bing Wang.

Jessica Tebbets
Jessica Tebbets, B.S.
Senior Research Technician

Ms. Tebbets is a Senior Technician in the SCRC, and is involved in many different lab projects. She is also the lab's safety representative, and contributes tremendously to the daily running of the laboratory.

Seth Thompson

Research Technician



Mr. Seth Thompson is a new Technician in the SCRC, and is involved in different research projects conducted in our on the use of muscle derived stem cells for bone and cartilage repair and regeneration. He will work with Dr. Gao on these projects.



Dr. Cliff Voigt

Research Resident


Bing Wang
Bing Wang, M.D., Ph.D.
Molecular Therapeutics Lab Director

In past years, Dr. Wang has been engaged in projects that concentrated on gene therapy for neuromuscular disorders, specifically Duchenne and Limb Girdle muscular dystrophies, using AAV viral vectors as gene vehicles. He directs the Molecular Therapeutics Lab.

Deanna Walsh

Student Intern