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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

David Schaffer, 31

Medicine

University of California, Berkeley

David Schaffer spends most of his time making things grow:I n his garden, orchids; in his lab, stem cells. The biomedical engineer is trying to coax stem cells that lie nearly dormant in the brain to multiply at a much quicker rate than they ordinarily do, which could help regenerate damaged nerve tissue in patients with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases. Last year Schaffer and his colleagues discovered a protein that causes stem cells to grow, and he showed that the protein’s action could trigger the repair of nerve cells in mice. By determining how the protein works, Schaffer may be able to get neural stem cells in human patients to replace damaged neurons. To carry the protein to stem cells, Schaffer is using inactivated viruses as delivery vans and is now tinkering with their molecular properties to help them find their targets precisely. Schaffer’s background equipped him well for his work: he grew up in a family of doctors, was interested in mathematics and majored in engineering. Prodding stem cells to grow is harder than cultivating orchids, but the potential rewards are richer, too.

2002 TR35 Winners

Ewan Birney

Biotechnology

Fiona Brinkman

Biotechnology

Chris Burge

Biotechnology

Benjamin Cravatt

Biotechnology

Nathaniel David

Biotechnology

Susan Hagness

Medicine

Derek Hansford

Materials

J. Joseph Kim

Medicine

Steven Laken

Medicine

Kelvin Lee

Medicine

Milan Mrksich

Materials

Stephen OConnor

Biotechnology

Alexander Olek

Biotechnology

Vijay Pande

Biotechnology

Stephen Quake

Materials

David Sabatini

Biotechnology

John Santini

Medicine

David Schaffer

Medicine

Christoph Westphal

Biotechnology

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