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Hanna Mikkola, MD, PhD


Dr. Hanna Mikkola studies how blood stem cells are generated during embryonic development and how their ability to self-renew and give rise to differentiated blood cell types is orchestrated by cues from their micro-environment.


Hanna received M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in 1997 from the University of Helsinki, Finland. Hanna became interested in blood cell development during her early years of medical school, and did her graduate thesis with Aarno Palotie and Leena Peltonen-Palotie on defining genetic defects in a congenital bleeding disorder, Factor XIII deficiency. Hanna's interest in hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) biology started during her post-doctoral training in Stefan Karlsson's laboratory in Lund University, Sweden, (1998-2000), where she developed lentiviral gene transfer tools to manipulate stem cells. In 2000, Hanna joined Stuart Orkin's group at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School. Her work in Boston focused on hematopoietic transcription factors, as well as on defining the first stages of HSC development through identifying markers for nascent HSCs and describing the placenta as a novel site where HSCs develop.


Hanna joined UCLA and the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology (MCDB) in 2005. She is an active member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research (BSCRC) and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC). Hanna has received the Martha Austin Research Award from the Stop Cancer Foundation, and Junior Faculty Scholar Awards from the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and V foundation for Cancer Research, Scholar Award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and the prestigious McCulloch and Till award from International Society for Experimental Hematology (ISEH).


Hanna’s lab has also received support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), Cancer Research Coordinating Committee (CRCC) and California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). In addition to supervising her research team, Hanna teaches undergraduate and graduate students at UCLA, and launched a Stem Cell Biology Course (MCDB 168) for upper division undergraduates. If Hanna is not in the lab, she is most likely spending time with her horses Cera, Zaro,  Cassiopeia, San Fabia and dog Giulia.

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