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Daniel A. Peterson, PhD

Professor & Director CSCRM

Dr. Peterson obtained a B.S. degree from the University of Southern California and a PhD from the University of Otago School of Medicine, New Zealand. Dr. Peterson did a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in stem cell biology and gene therapy at UC San Diego, with Professor Fred H. (Rusty) Gage. Dr. Peterson moved to the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA in 1995, where he was a Staff Scientist in the Laboratory of Genetics.

In 1998, Dr. Peterson joined the faculty of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and established the Laboratory for Neural Repair and Neurogenesis. This was subsequently broadened in its focus to become the Laboratory for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. In 2007, with the support of the Board of Trustees of Rosalind Franklin University, Dr. Peterson established the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (CSCRM). In addition to directing the CSCRM, Dr. Peterson is Professor and Vice-Chairman of Neuroscience and is the author of more than 65 peer-reviewed scientific publications.

He is an internationally recognized scientist in the fields of stem cell biology, gene therapy, and the biology of aging. Dr. Peterson recently served as Chairman of the National Institutes of Health Study Sections, Neurogenesis and Cell Fate and Juvenile Protective Factors.  He serves on the editorial boards of the scientific journals Stem Cells and Development, Neurobiology of Aging, Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, Frontiers in Neurogenesis, Aging and Disease, and Patents on Regenerative Medicine, and ISRN Stem Cells. He is the past-President of the Chicago Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. He is also past-President of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair and past-Congress President for the 11th International Neural Transplantation and Repair Meeting.  Dr. Peterson serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Brain Research Foundation and on the National Scientific Advisory Council of the American Federation for Aging Research.  He also serves as a Commissioner for the Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale Italia, Concorsuale 06/D6-Neurologia, Commissario OCSE (Italian National Scientific Review Panel for Tenure and Promotion, Neurology Division, External Commissioner).

Dr. Peterson has recently been awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award to support collaborative research with Professor Oliver Brüstle at the Institute of Reconstructive Neurobiology, University of Bonn, Germany. 


Research Projects | Publications | Service


Research Projects

Research Interests

Advances in regenerative medicine hold substantial promise for revolutionizing health care delivery and ushering in a new era of targeted, personalized medicine. To achieve this promise, it will be necessary to effectively translate advances in understanding stem cell biology and tissue regeneration into new therapeutic options. My lab is focusing on the possibility of recruiting endogenous stem cells as one approach to fulfilling the promise of personalized regenerative medicine. Emerging evidence suggests that most tissues in the body harbor a rare population of primitive stem/progenitor cells. Our goal is to activate these cells, expand their numbers, and direct their differentiation to support the repair process.

We have chosen to address three important issues in tissue stem cell recruitment: repair of the brain, cutaneous wound healing, and understanding the capacity of stem cells in aging tissue. Neurological injury and disease and Type 2 diabetes represent two major public health challenges that, at present, can only be managed but not cured. As these conditions, and many others, exhibit an age-related increase in incidence and progression in severity, we believe that it is also necessary to study regeneration within the context of tissue aging. My lab has developed complementary lines of investigation in these topics that are described in more detail below. In addition, we have a long-standing interest in utilizing the most rigorous methods for quantitative analysis and in improving the use of quantitative tools by developing high-throughput analysis.

Stem Cells for Brain Repair

The adult brain exhibits limited self-repair following injury or disease onset. The goal of this project is to identify, activate, and recruit endogenous stem/progenitor cells within brain parenchyma to restore neural function. To accomplish this, studies investigate the regulation of stem cell proliferation and differentiation within the neurogenic niches of the hippocampus and subventricular zone. We also investigate the properties of rare stem/progenitor cell populations outside of the neurogenic niches to assess their potential for in vivo expansion and directed neuronal conversion. These cells do not normally produce mature neurons, but we have succeeded in obtaining neuronal lineage commitment following in vivo gene delivery of induction signals. In a consortium with other investigators at RFUMS and DePaul University, including Drs. Stutzmann and Marr in the Department of Neuroscience, we are currently investigating the response of endogenous neural stem cells to mild repetitive traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Skin Stem Cells in Wound Healing

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from bone marrow have the potential to become a variety of cell types, including bone, cartilage, and connective tissue and there is emerging evidence that these cells can be used therapeutically to improve tissue repair. Using a slow-healing skin wound model in diabetic mice, we demonstrated the contribution of host MSCs in accelerating cutaneous wound healing.  More recently, we have established that diabetic skin shows impaired skin stem cell proliferations and we are investigating this as a mechanism of impaired reepithelialization in diabetic and aged patients.  By understanding their regulation and capacity, we hope to find how a patient's own stem cells may be recruited for developing personalized medicine therapies.  These studies have  clinical relevance for all types of chronic or extensive cutaneous wounds, including diabetes, burns, and trauma and may provide insight into restoring the integrity of aging skin.

Homeostasis of Stem Cell Populations in Aging and Disease

Stem cell populations exist in most adult tissue examined and may represent reserve cells that could be activated for repair. While some populations, such as hematopoietic stem cells have been extensively characterized, little is known of the population dynamics of most resident stem/progenitor cell populations in vivo, how long-lived different stem-progenitor cells may be, or the mechanisms that govern their number within the tissue. There is evidence that stem cell populations are reduced in aging and may also be altered in disease. The goal of this project is to evaluate homeostasis in tissue stem cell populations as a function of age and to characterize their responsiveness and subsequent homeostasis following an injury challenge. Data obtained from these studies will provide insight into the mechanisms regulating stem cell recruitment that may benefit the development of therapeutic approaches utilizing a patient’s own stem cells.

High Content, High-Throughput Quantitative Histology

Accurate determination of cell populations in tissue is required to establish the statistical significance of changes in outcome for experimental, preclinical, or clinical studies. For histological studies, design-based stereology has become the gold standard for outcome measurements. While stereology offers an advantage of rigorous and reliable sampling of cell populations, it is labor-intensive and time consuming, particularly in stem cell studies that require identification of multiple phenotypic labels by confocal microscopy. This project will continue development of technology for unattended, high-throughput confocal stereology to reduce time and labor commitments by investigators in conducting studies of stem cell populations in tissue.


Selected Publications
(from over 65 peer-reviewed publications)

Gage, F. H., Coates, P.W., Palmer, T.D., Kuhn, H.G., Fisher, L.J., Suhonen, J.O., Peterson, D.A., Suhr, S.T., and Ray, J. (1995) Survival and differentiation of adult neuronal progenitor cells transplanted to the adult brain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 92:11879-11883.

Peterson, D.A., Lucidi-Phillipi, C.A., Murphy, D., and Gage, F.H. (1996) FGF-2 protects entorhinal layer II glutamatergic neurons from axotomy-induced death. Journal of Neuroscience 16(3):886-898.

Suhonen, J.O., Peterson, D.A., Ray, J. and Gage, F.H. (1996) Differentiation of adult-derived hippocampal progenitor cells into olfactory bulb neurons. Nature 383:624-627.

Peterson, D.A., Leppert, J.T., Lee, K-F., and Gage, F.H. (1997) Basal forebrain neuronal loss in mice lacking neurotrophin receptor p75. Science 277(5327):837-838.

Kafri, T., Blömer, U., Peterson, D.A., Gage, F.H., and Verma, I. (1997) Sustained expression of genes delivered directly in liver and muscle by lentiviral vectors. Nature Genetics 17:314-317.

Eriksson, P.S., Perfilieva, E., Björk-Eriksson, T., Alborn, A-M., Nordborg, C., Peterson, D.A., and Gage, F.H. (1998) Neurogenesis in the adult human hippocampus. Nature Medicine 4(11):1313-1317.

Peterson, D.A. (1999) Quantitative histology using confocal microscopy: Implementation of unbiased stereology procedures. Methods: A Companion to Methods in Enzymology 18:493-507.

Peterson, D.A. (2002) Stem Cells in Brain Plasticity and Repair. Current Opinion in Pharmacology 2:34-42

Kaspar, B., Schaeffer, D.S., Erickson, D.A., Hinh, L., Gage, F.H., and Peterson, D.A. (2002) Rescue of specific projection neurons by retrograde anti-apoptotic gene delivery. Molecular Therapy 5:50-56.

Hallbergson, A.F., Gnatenco, C. and Peterson, D.A. (2003) Neurogenesis following brain injury: Managing a renewable resource for brain repair Journal of Clinical Investigation 112:1128-1133.

Peterson, D.A. (2004) The use of fluorescent probes in cell counting procedures. In Quantitative Methods in Neuroscience, Evans, S., Jansen, A.M., and Nyengaard, J.R. (Eds.) Oxford University Press pp. 85-114.

Bernal, G.M. and Peterson, D.A. (2004) Neural stem cells as therapeutic agents for age-related brain repair. Aging Cell 3:345-351.

Vega, C.J., and Peterson, D.A. (2005) Stem cell proliferative history in tissue revealed by temporal halogenated thymidine analog discrimination. Nature Methods 2:167-169.

Sondi, D., Peterson, D.A., Sanders, C.T., Rostkowski, A., Giannaris E.L., De, B., Grant, A., Lam, M., Hackett, N.R., Kaminsky, S.M., and Crystal, R.G. (2005) AAV2-Mediated CLN2 gene transfer to brains of rodents and non-human primates results in widespread TPP-I expression at distribution levels compatible with therapy for late infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis. Gene Therapy 12:1618-1632.

Lazarov, O., Peterson, L.D., Peterson, D.A., and Sisodia, S.S. (2006) Expression of FAD-linked PS1∆E9 enhances perforant pathway lesion-induced neuronal cell death in the entorhinal cortex. Journal of Neuroscience 26:429-434.

Chadashvili, T. and Peterson, D.A. (2006) Cytoarchitecture of fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR-2) immunoreactivity in astrocytes of neurogenic and non-neurogenic regions of the young adult and aged rat brain. Journal of Comparative Neurology 498:1-15.

Sanders, C.T., Sanchez, N., Ballantyne, J., and Peterson, D.A. (2006) Laser microdissection for pure separation of spermatozoa from epithelial cells for STR analysis. Journal of Forensic Science 51:748-757.

Sondi, D., Hackett, N.R., Travis, K., Peterson, D.A., and Crystal, R.G. (2007) Impact of intracranial administration of CLN2 gene mediated by Rhesus Macaque derived AAVrh.10 vector on performance in CLN2 knockout mice. Molecular Therapy 15:481-491.

Thomas, R.M., Hotsenpiller, G., and Peterson, D.A. (2007) Acute psychosocial stress reduces cell survival in adult hippocampal neurogenesis but not initial proliferation. Journal of Neuroscience 27:2734-2743.

Sondhi, D., Hackett, N.R., Peterson, D.A., Stratton, J., Baad, M., Travis, K.M., Wilson, J.M., and Crystal, R.G. (2007)  Enhanced survival of the LINCL mouse following CLN2 gene transfer using the rh.10 rhesus macaque-derived adeno-associated virus vector.  Molecular Therapy 15:481-491.

Sondhi, D., Peterson, D.A., Edelstein, A.M., del Fierro, K., Hackett, N.R., and Crystal R.G. (2008)  Survival advantage of neonatal CNS gene transfer for late infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis.  Experimental Neurology 213:18-27.

Thomas, R.M., and Peterson D.A. (2008)  Even neural stem cells get the blues:  modulation of neurogenesis and gene expression in animal models of depression.  Gene Expression 14:183-193.

Kuhn, H.G., and Peterson, D.A. (2008)  Detection and Phenotypic Characterization of Adult Neurogenesis. in Gage, F.H., Kempermann, G. and Song, H. (Eds.) Adult Neurogenesis, 2nd Edition, Cold Spring Harbor Press, New York, pp. 25-47.

Bernal, G.M., and Peterson, D.A. (2009)  Synaptic plasticity:  Neuronogenesis and stem cells in normal brain aging.  In Larry R. Squire, Editor-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Academic Press, Oxford, 2008, Pages 769-772.

Bernal, G.M., and Peterson, D.A. (2009)  Neurogenesis and stem cells in normal brain aging.  In Hof, P.R. and Mobbs, C.V. (Eds.) Handbook of the Neuroscience of Aging, Academic Press, New York, NY, Pages 61-64.

Rostkowski, A.B., Peterson, D.A., and Urban, J.H. (2009) Cell-specific expression of neuropeptide Y Y1 and Y5 receptor immunoreactivity in the rat basolateral amygdala. Journal of Comparative Neurology 517:166-176.

Peterson, D.A. (2010) Confocal Microscopy. In: Kompoliti, K., and Verhagen-Metman, L. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Movement Disorders, vol. 1, pp. 250-252, Oxford: Academic Press.

Peterson, D.A. (2010) Stereology. In: Kompoliti, K., and Verhagen-Metman, L. (eds.) Encyclopedia of Movement Disorders, vol. 3, pp. 168-170, Oxford: Academic Press.

Marr, R., Thomas, R.M., and Peterson, D.A. (2010) Insights into neurogenesis and aging: potential for therapy for neurodegenerative disease., Future Neurology 5(4):527-541.

Lazarov, O. Mattson, M., Peterson, D.A., Pimplikar, S., and van Praag, H. (2010) When neurogenesis encounters aging and disease., Trends in Neuroscience 33(12):569-79.

Encinas, J.M., Michurina, T., Tordo, J., Peterson, D.A., Fishell, G., Koulakov, A., and Enikolopov, G. (2010) Division-coupled astrocytic differentiation of neural stem cells drives age-related decline in neurogenesis.  Cell Stem Cell 8:566-579.  Cover Image

Bernal, G.M. and Peterson, D.A. (2011)  Phenotypic and gene expression modification with normal brain aging in GFAP-positive astrocytes and neural stem cells.  Aging Cell 10:466-482.  Cover Image

Shin, L. and Peterson, D.A. (2012)  Impaired therapeutic capacity of autologous stem cells in a model of type 2 diabetes.  Stem Cells Translational Medicine, 1:125-135.

Klempin, F., Marr, R., and Peterson, D.A. (2012)  Modification of Pax6 and Olig2 gene expression in adult hippocampal neurogenesis selectively induces stem cell fate and alters both neuronal and glial populations.  Stem Cells, 30(3):500-9.

Hafez, D.M., Huang, J.Y., Howlett, D.R., Masliah, E., Peterson, D.A., and Marr, R.A. (2012)  F-spondin gene transfer improves memory performance and reduces amyloid-β levels in mice.  Neuroscience, 223:465-72.

Shin, L. and Peterson, D.A. (2013)  Human mesenchymal stem cell grafts enhance normal and impaired wound healing by recruiting existing endogenous tissue stem/progenitor cells.  Stem Cell Translational Medicine 2:33-42.

Schmitz, C., Eastwood, B.S., Tappan, S.J., Glaser, J.R., Peterson, D.A., and Hof, P.R.  (2014) Current automated 3D cell detection methods are not a suitable replacement for manual stereologic cell counting.  Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 8:  Article 27.

Olivera-Pasilio, V., Peterson, D.A., and Castelló, M.E. (2014) Spatial distribution and cellular composition of adult brain proliferative zones in the teleost, Gymnotus omarorum, Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 8: Article 88. 

Peterson, D.A. (2014)  High-resolution quantitative histology by confocal stereology.,  In: Conn, M. and Cornea, A. (eds.)  Fluorescence Microscopy:  Super-Resolution and Other Novel Techniques, Academic Press (Oxford), pp. 171-184.

Bazarek, S. and Peterson, D.A. (2014) Prospects for engineering neurons from local neocortical cell populations as cell-mediated therapy for neurological disorders.  Journal of Comparative Neurology 522:2857-2876.

Lab Members

Stan Bazarek

M.D., PhD Student 
Room: 1.374
Phone: 847-578-3000 (X3500)

Sam Lake

M.D. Student 
Room: 1.374
Phone: 847-578-3000 (X3501)

Andrew Walker

M.D. Student 
Room: 1.374
Phone: 847-578-3000 (X3501)

Emily Reisenbigler

Research Associate
Room: 1.374
Phone: 847-578-3000 (X3500)

Ibukunoluwa Araoye

M.D. Student 
Room: 1.374
Phone: 847-578-3000 (X3501)

Lab Group Photo, Summer 2013
From Left to Right:  Daniel Peterson, Emily Reisenbigler, Sam Lake, Sarah Schuck, Rose Rogers, Stan Bazarek, Carol Galioto, David Moy


Service Activities
Organizer, Neuroscience Department Seminar Series
Director, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine
Counselor, Academic Assembly of the Chicago Medical School

Medical Neuroscience Course
Graduate Program in Neuroscience
Medical Neuroscience for Podiatry and Physical Therapy

Editorial Boards
Neurobiology of Aging
Stem Cells and Development
Frontiers of Neuroscience- Neuroanatomy
Frontiers of Neuroscience-Neurogenesis
Aging and Disease
Recent Patents on Regenerative Medicine
ISRN Stem Cells