Jason Butler, Ph.D., is Director, Stem Cell Therapeutics of the Center for Discovery and Innovation.
The long-term research goal of the Butler lab is to unravel the mechanisms by which aging endothelial cells lead to the disruption of blood stem cell function and to determine whether these age-related deficiencies enhance the progression of blood cancers, such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Dr. Butler’s commitment to studying the blood system is based on the discoveries by his group demonstrating that endothelial cells within the bone marrow serve as instructive cells that are essential for the maintenance of the blood stem cell and the reconstitution of the hematopoietic system following radiation/chemotherapeutic treatments. The Butler lab has recently discovered that aged endothelial cells alter their instructive capacity and drive the observed decrease in functional potential of blood stem cells and that blood cancers can co-opt the ability of endothelial cells to support blood stem cells and induce their own expansion leading to aggressive disease. Dr. Butler’s group is currently developing novel experimental models that will allow for the manipulation of endothelial cells to “safeguard” healthy blood stem cells while increasing the susceptibility of malignant cells to anti-cancer regimens.