When the young scientist featured in this LabTV video first learned about induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells a few years ago as an undergrad, he thought it would be cool if he could someday work with this innovative technology. Today, as a graduate student, Kinsley Belle is part of a research team that’s using iPS cells on a routine basis to gain a deeper understanding of Parkinson’s disease.
Derived from genetically reprogrammed skin cells or white blood cells, iPS cells have the potential to develop into many different types of cells, providing scientists with a powerful tool to model a wide variety of diseases in laboratory dishes. At the University of Miami’s John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, Belle and his colleagues are taking advantage of an iPS model of Parkinson’s disease to explore its molecular roots. Their goal? To use that information to develop better treatments or maybe even a cure for the neurodegenerative disorder that affects at least a half-million Americans.
When he first entered college, Belle considered becoming a medical doctor. But after volunteering at a hospital, this Florida native found himself more drawn to biomedical research, attracted by interactions with other scientists and the intellectually dynamic nature of life in the lab.
Belle plans to finish up his graduate work, which is being carried out at the Hussman Institute’s Morris K. Udall Parkinson’s Disease Research Center of Excellence, part of a nationwide network supported by NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. After that, he wants to do a postdoctoral fellowship and then pursue a research career either in academia or private industry.
Belle’s advice to other young people with an interest in science: “You are never too young to seek out opportunities.”
Stem Cell Basics (NIH)
Morris K. Udall Parkinson Disease Research Center of Excellence (Hussman Institute for Human Genomics/University of Miami)
Science Careers (National Institute of General Medical Sciences/NIH)
Careers Blog (Office of Intramural Training/NIH)