Department of Biological Sciences

Dodge Hall Rm 375
118 Library Dr
Rochester, MI 48309-4479
(location map)
(248) 370-3550
fax: (248) 370-4225

Luis G. Villa-Diaz

Luis G. Villa-Diaz
Assistant Professor, D.V.M., Ph.D.
305 MSC
(248) 370-2576
Lab location: 304 MSC
Lab phone: (248) 370-4903

Villa-Diaz lab website

Courses:  BIO 309 Biology of the Cell

Research:  Interconnection between human pluripotent stem cells and the extracellular matrix

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), which include embryonic stem cells (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cells, have a great potential for use in regenerative medicine, drug development, disease modeling and developmental biology. These cells have the capacity of in-vitro unlimited self-renewal and a differentiation potential to all cell types in the body.

Dr. Villa-Diaz’s research focuses on understanding and elucidating the self-renewal properties of hPSCs, which are influenced by the microenvironment in which they are cultured, in particular the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM is a multifunctional regulator of cellular behavior serving functions beyond those as a scaffold for the organization of cells into tissues. ECM proteins modulate the activity and bioavailability of growth factors, cytokines, and chemokines via direct binding and signaling via cell-surface receptors including integrins and matricellular proteins, to regulate cellular functions.

His research has shown that the self-renewal of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) is influenced by ECM deposition of feeder-cells, nanotopography cues, material mechanics, chemical composition and the structural arrangements of substrates. Therefore, the central hypothesis and main focus of his research is the fate of hPSCs and how they can be directed towards self-renewal and cell-lineage differentiation by molecular mechanisms initiated by ECM components and the microenvironment for the creation of an in vitro model for early events in development.

Selected Publications:

Villa-Diaz, L.G., Kim, J.K. Lahann, J., Krebsbach, P.H.  Derivation of xenogeneic-free and transgene-free human iPSCs on synthetic substrates.  Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2014.  PMID: 25313201.

Qian, X., Villa-Diaz, L.G., Kumar, R., Lahann, J., Krebsbach, P.H. (2014) Enhancement of the propagation of human embryonic stem cells by modifications in the gel architecture of PMEDSAH polymer coatings.  Biomaterials 35:9581-9590.

Jiang, G., Di Bernardo, J., Maiden, M., Villa-Diaz, L.G., Mabrouk, O., Krebsbach, P.H., O’Shea, K.S., Kunasaki, S.  (2014) Human transgene-free amniotic fluid-derived induced pluripotent stem cells for autologous treatment of prenatally diagnosed birth defects. Stem Cells and Development 35:9581-9590.

Sun, Y., Yong, K.M.A, Villa-Diaz, L.G., Zhang, X., Chen, W., Philson, R., Weng, S., Xu, H., Krebsbach, P.H., Fu., J. (2014) Hippo/YAP-mediated rigidity-dependent motor neuron differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells.  Nature Materials 13:599-604.

Sun, Y., Villa-Diaz, L.G., Lam, R.H.W, Chen, W., Krebsbach, P.H., Fu, J. (2012) Mechanics regulates fate decisions of human embryonic stem cells.  PLoS ONE 7:e37178.

Chen, W., Villa-Diaz, L.G., Sun, Y., Weng, S., Kim, J.K., Lam, R.H.W., Han, L., Fan, R., Krebsbach, P.H., Fu, J. (2012) Nanotopography influences adhesion, spreading, and self-renewal of human embryonic stem cells.  ACS Nano 6:4094-4103.

Villa-Diaz, L.G., Brown, S.E., Liu, Y., Ross, A., Lahann, J., Parent, J.M., Krebsbach, P.H.  (2012) Derivation of mesenchymal stem cells from human induced pluripotent stem cells cultured on synthetic substrates. Stem Cells 30:1174-1181.

Nandivada, H., Villa-Diaz, L.G., O’Shea, K.S., Smith, G.D., Krebsbach, P.H., Lahann, J.  (2011) Fabrication of synthetic polymer coatings and their use in feeder-free culture of human embryonic stem cells. Nature Protocols 6:1037-1043. PMID: 21720316.

Villa-Diaz, L.G., Nandivada H., Ding, J., Naiara C. Nogueira-de-Souza, Krebsbach, P.H., O’Shea, K.S., Lahann, J., Smith, G.D. (2010) Synthetic polymer coatings for long-term growth of human embryonic stem cells. Nature Biotechnology 28: 581-583.