Helen Margaret Blau
Molecular pharmacologist; Educator
Cellular and Developmental Biology
Helen M. Blau is the Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Foundation Professor and Director of the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in the Stanford University School of Medicine. Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Member, Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. FASEB Excellence in Science Award (1999); Member, Harvard University Board of Overseers (2004-2010); Stanford OTL Outstanding Inventor Award (2015). Blau's research area is regenerative medicine with a focus on stem cells. She is world renowned for her work on nuclear reprogramming and demonstration of the plasticity of cell fate using cell fusion. These studies provided the scientific underpinnings for mammalian cloning and induced pluripotent stem cells. Blau also led the field with novel approaches to treating muscle damaged due to disease, injury, or aging. She pioneered the design of biomaterials to mimic the in vivo microenvironment and direct stem cell fate. A major focus of her current work is the rejuvenation of muscle stem cell function to enhance muscle repair in the aged. Her research has enhanced muscle stem cell based therapies and led to the discovery of novel molecules and therapeutic strategies for the treatment of muscle wasting in disease and aging. Blau served as president of the American Society for Developmental Biology (1994-95) and the International Society of Differentiation (2002-04). She received the B.A. degree (1969) from the University of York in the U.K., and the M.A. (1970) and Ph.D. (1975) from Harvard University, all in biology, and she was a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF. In 2003 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Blau was elected a Fellow (II:2) of the American Academy in 1996. She is a member of the Academy Council, and has served on the Class II:2 membership panel.