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Daniel A. Peterson, PhD

Daniel A. Peterson, PhD
Professor; Director, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (CSCRM)
About Me | Lab Members | Research Projects | Publications | Service

Neuroscience Discipline

Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (CSCRM)

Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Therapeutics


Daniel A. Peterson, Ph.D. is Professor and Vice-Chairman of Neuroscience and the Director of the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at the Chicago Medical School. Dan obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Otago (New Zealand) and did postdoctoral training in stem cell biology and gene therapy with Rusty Gage at UC San Diego and the Salk Institute. Dr. Peterson joined the Chicago Medical School in 1998 as an Assistant Professor and became a tenured Full Professor in 2012. Dr. Peterson established the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine in 2007. His research focuses on the role of stem cells in brain repair and ranges from the early studies of adult neurogenesis, including human neurogenesis, through gene therapy approaches, and the direct reprogramming of glial cells into neurons. Dr. Peterson has also contributed to the rigorous training of more than 1000 young scientists in imaging and quantitative approaches through his workshops that he has conducted since 2003 (

In addition to his contribution in scientific publications and recognition through successful extramural funding awards over the years, Dr. Peterson has been a well-regarded citizen of international science. He has served as Past-President of the Chicago Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, the Past-President of the American Society for Neural Repair and Therapy, the Congress President for the 11th International Neural Transplantation and Repair meeting. He currently serves as Committee Member of the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy, and as a Board member of the International Society for Stereology and Image Analysis. In 2014, Dr. Peterson was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award for undertaking a sabbatical at the University of Bonn, Germany. Subsequently, he was asked by the Rector to serve as an International Ambassador for the University of Bonn.

Dr. Peterson has also demonstrated leadership in scientific service through both regular and ad-hoc service on NIH study sections, serving terms as the Chair of two different study sections. He has also served as the Chair of NYSTEM (New York Stem Cell Board), as review panel member for Centers of Excellence Evaluation Committee for separate reviews commissioned by the governments of Austria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Dr. Peterson currently serves as a Scientific Review Board member for the Brain Research Foundation. Dr. Peterson also currently serves on the Editorial Boards of four journals, including a role as an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Neuroscience.

About Me | Lab Members | Research Projects | Publications | Service

Lab Members

Emily Reisenbigler

Emily Reisenbigler

Senior Research Specialist 
Room: 1.374
Phone: (224) 570-7962

Jonathon Yousey

Research Technician

Ashmita Baral

PhD Candidate 
Room: 1.374
Phone: (224) 570-7963

About Me | Lab Members | 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 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 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. 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.

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 neuroscience discipline, 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 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 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 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. 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 and, 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 commitments by investigators in conducting studies of stem cell populations in tissue.

About Me | Lab Members | Research Projects | Publications | Service


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) Targeted retrograde gene delivery for neuronal protection. 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 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.

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-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. 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. 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: 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 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 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 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, BS, 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 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, Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 8: Article 88.

Peterson, D.A. (2014) High-resolution quantitative histology by confocal stereology., 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.

Gorris, R., Fische, J., Erwes, K.L., Kesavan J., Peterson, D.A., Alexander, M., Nöthen, M.M., Peitz, M., Quandel, T., Karus, M., and Brüstle, O. (2015) Pluripotent stem cell-derived radial glia-like cells as stable intermediate for efficient generation of human oligodendrocytes. Glia 63:2152-2167.

Kuhn, H.G., Eisch, A.J., Spalding, K., and Peterson, D.A. (2016) Detection and Phenotypic Characterization of Adult Neurogenesis. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology 8:a025981.

Jamnia, N., Urban, J.H., Stutzmann, G.E., Chiren, S.G., Reisenbigler, E., Marr, R., Peterson, D.A., and Kozlowski, D.A. (2017) A Clinically Relevant Closed-Head Model of Single and Repeat Concussive Injury in the Adult Rat Using a Controlled Cortical Impact Device. Journal of Neurotrauma 3:1351-1363.

Doerr, J., Schwarz, M.K., Wiedermann, D., Leinhaas, A., Jakobs, A., Schloen, F., Schwarz, I., Diedenhofen, M., Braun, N.C., Koch, P., Peterson, D.A., Kubitscheck, U., Hoehn, and M., Brüstle, O. (2017) Whole-brain 3D mapping of human neural transplant innervation. Nature Communications 8:14162.


About Me | Lab Members | Research Projects | Publications | Service


Service Activities
Organizer, Neuroscience Seminar SeriesDetection and Phenotypic Characterization of Adult Neurogenesis.
Director, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine
Counselor, Academic Assembly of the Chicago Medical School

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