Thomas Rando, MD, PhD, director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA and an affiliated faculty member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has received the NOMIS Foundation’s Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award.
The five-year award will support Dr. Rando’s research into the molecular regulation of stem cell quiescence—a state in which a cell is not actively dividing but has retained the capacity to resume proliferating in response to certain stimuli.
“For many years, quiescence was viewed as a relatively unimportant state during which cells are inactive,” Dr. Rando said. “We have only recently discovered that quiescent stem cells are like the proverbial still waters that run deep. Quiescence is a complex and highly regulated state that is critical to the long-term survival and availability of the stem cell populations our bodies rely on throughout our lives.”
The focus of Dr. Rando’s NOMIS-funded project is to explore the hidden secrets of the quiescent state—how it adapts to environmental shifts, how it changes as a result of aging and how cellular decisions are made to either maintain quiescence or break quiescence and divide. The ultimate aim of these studies is to inform the development of new methods to promote stem cell resilience and thus enhance tissue maintenance and repair across the lifespan.
“I am deeply grateful and honored for the NOMIS Foundation’s recognition and support,” said Dr. Rando, who is also a professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine and of molecular, cell and developmental biology. “In addition to the potential clinical impact, this award will enable my lab to shed light on the trade-off between survival and reproduction, an interplay that is at the very core of the evolution of species.”
Dr. Rando is a renowned neurologist and stem cell biologist whose research has yielded critical insights into stem cell function and tissue repair. His laboratory’s groundbreaking studies in mice found that old tissues could be rejuvenated by exposure to young blood. This work has formed the basis of an expanding area of aging research and led to clinical trials of novel therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.
NOMIS is a private Swiss foundation that aims to catalyze scientific and human progress by supporting pioneering investigators, establishing collaborative research networks, and creating optimal conditions for the advancement of high-risk basic research. Dr. Rando will be presented his award at a ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland, in October 2022.