Dr. Mark Kibschull

Post-Doctoral Fellow & Research Associate

Kibschull is a research specialist in the Lye lab, focusing on the underlying pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and preterm birth. To better understand how human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) develop into the more than 200 specialized cell types that make up the human body, Kibschull and his colleagues need to optimize hESC culture conditions and identify the biochemical cues that induce differentiation.

To assess the effects of culture condition changes and the addition of different biochemical cues, Kibschull uses real-time PCR and looks for the hESC gene expression patterns that are characteristic of pluripotent stem cells and those that are the hallmarks of differentiation. In theory, this is a straightforward undertaking: harvest cells, isolate mRNA, and perform standard real-time PCR analysis. In practice it has proven to be an almost insurmountable challenge. “When you work with stem cells,” he explains “you often have only a tiny amount of material that you would like to analyze for several markers via qPCR. This was not possible with standard column-based RNA purification methods.”

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Dr. Mark Kibschull