Our Research

The long-term vision of the Iyer Stem Cell & Regeneration Lab is to exploit advances in stem cell biology and emerging engineering technologies to develop personalized therapeutic strategies for neural repair.  We focus on using human pluripotent stem cells to determine how regional and phenotypic specificity drives neural circuit formation, degeneration, and regeneration in the spinal cord and beyond.

We are hiring!

We are actively searching to fill multiple roles in the lab. If you are interested in joining our team, check out our open positions!

News & Upcoming Events

January 2024

January 24, 2024

Funding for exciting research! The Iyer Lab received a First Look Award from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) Women’s Health Initiative last summer to develop new stem cell tools to model women's pelvic pain. Read about it in Tufts Now!

January 10, 2024

We are celebrating AGAIN! Congratulations to Natalie on winning  a Tufts Graduate Student Research Competition award! She will be using the funds to develop hybrid differentiation strategies to efficiently generate region-specific neurons.

December 2023

December 19, 2023

We are celebrating! Congrats to Patrick, who was recently accepted into the highly selective 2024 Stanford Brain Organogenesis Workshop!  

December 7, 2023

Fun Lab Times: What a difference a year makes! So much growth and opportunities for lab bonding! Excited for all of the great team science we'll be doing in the new year.

October 2023

October 27, 2023

We are celebrating! Congrats to Jed and Dylan on winning  Tufts Undergraduate Research Funds! They will be using these funds to produce recombinant proteins in the lab for making low-cost media for large-scale bioprocessing.

SACNAS 2023: Brandon is presenting a poster on his research this week at the National Diversity in STEM Conference (SACNAS) in Portland, OR.  He received a travel award earlier this year to attend this meeting!

September 2023

September 29, 2023

We are growing! The lab welcomes masters student Natalie Parker to the lab! Natalie recently graduated from Amsterdam University College and comes to the lab with experience in microbiome engineering for infectious disease. 

September 22, 2023

We are celebrating! The Iyer lab won in two superlative categories during the annual Tufts BME department research retreat. The whole lab was nominated and won the "Lab Early Bird" award--congrats Nisha, Emily, Zhixin and Brandon!-- and Nisha won the "Coziest Office" award. We are looking forward to more lab victories in the future!

September 1, 2023

We are growing! Emily joined us from the University of Florida as the first PhD student in the lab!  In the spring,  Emily was awarded the prestigious NSF-GRFP fellowship. She was also named a Tufts Dean's Fellow,  awarded to the most competitive graduate applicants to the School of Engineering.  She just completed a summer of outreach with high school students with our colleagues at Tufts' Engineering Education.

Patrick Flynn also joins our lab as a  rotation student as part of a joint industry PhD program with Eli Lilly. Welcome Patrick!

August 2023

August 14, 2023

Nisha on STARTS Podcast! Nisha spoke with highschoolers Jaanak & Jaagat Prashar on their STARTS Podcast: Demystifying the Boundary Between STEM and the Arts. Check out our far ranging conversation on stem cell engineering, the future of regenerative medicine, and the importance of scientific art in communicating science here!

July 2023

July 26, 2023

New Publication! Check out our work with collaborators at the University of Central Florida, Tulane, and the University of Wisconsin--Madison: "Fully Integrated 3D Microelectrode Arrays with Polydopamine-Mediated Silicon Dioxide Insulation for Electrophysiological Interrogation of a Novel 3D Human, Neural Microphysiological Construct” published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Nisha and the Ashton lab contributed cells and expertise in spinal cord culture for this project!

Living Materials 2023: Nisha attended the 2023 Living Materials meeting at the Tufts European Center in Talloires, France.  Her talk "Between Plants and Spinal Cords" was presented to an interdisciplinary group of designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs interested in thoughtful and sustainable solutions for human problems. 

July 9-13, 2023

CNS Injury and Repair GRC 2023: Nisha attended the 2023 Gordon Conference on Central Nervous System Injury and Repair in beautiful Lucca, Italy where she enjoyed new science with old and new friends and collaborators. Her talk ("4 Steps to Make Every Neuron in the Human Spinal Cord") in the final keynote session, showcased tools developed in the lab that could be used for translational neural repair. 

July 3, 2023

Nisha on Curiously Podcast! Nisha was invited to speak about her EN1: Sci-Fi Bioengineering course on the Curiously Podcast with Dustin Grinnell.  Hear more here!

May 2023

May 25, 2023

Nisha on Radio Boston! Nisha was invited to speak about her EN1: Sci-Fi Bioengineering course at WBUR Radio Boston as part of a local segment on cool and quirky courses being taught in the Boston area.  Hear more here!

May 19, 2023

We are celebrating AGAIN! Brandon is on a roll! Congratulations to Brandon on winning  a Tufts Graduate Student Research Competition award! He will be using the funds to test novel differentiation reagents in the lab to improve our efficiencies and decrease costs. 

May 12, 2023

We are celebrating more! Congratulations to Brandon on receiving a travel scholarship to attend the 2023 National Diversity in STEM Conference from SACNAS. He will be traveling to Portland, Oregon in October to present his work on differentiating neuromesodermal progenitors. 

May 4, 2023

We are celebrating! Congratulations to Brandon on completing his Master's Thesis ORP (Original Research Proposal!). The Fourth was with you!

April 2023

April 11-14, 2023

TERMIS 2023: Nisha shared her experiences as a trainee and new PI in the face of COVID as a panelist for the Women's Lunch at the TERMIS-AM 2023 Meeting in Boston. She also co-chaired both concurrent neural sessions--Neural Tissue Engineering in Translation & Strategies for Regeneration of the Nervous System--a first for TERMIS-AM!  

March 2023

March 29, 2023

We are growing! The lab is excited to welcome research technician Zhixin Liao and PhD student Emily Pallack later this summer.  Zhixin recently graduated with a BS in Neuroscience from Smith College and comes to the lab with expertise in zebrafish neurobiology. A recent graduate of the University of Florida, Emily was awarded the prestigious NSF-GRFP fellowship for her proposal entitled "Understanding the role of regionally specific neurons and mechanically specific extracellular matrix in the spinal cord." Congrats to Emily!

December 2022

December 2, 2022

We are growing! The lab welcomes undergraduates Jed Quiaoit, Dylan Patel, & Farsin Syed. They will join me and masters student Brandon Hernandez-Pacheco in the spring to get cell culture up and running! Undergraduate Michelle Sun has been instrumental in getting the lab unpacked and set up, and we will miss her as she spends the next semester abroad in Sweden.  (Dylan, Nisha, Michelle, & Jed pictured below)

November 2022

November 15, 2022

NASEM Workshop: Nisha participated as a panelist in the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Forum on Regenerative Medicine's workshop, Training the Regenerative Medicine Workforce for the Future.  Hear more about issues related to workforce development, education, and diversity here!

October 2022

October 12-15, 2022

BMES 2023: Nisha had a great time meeting old and new friends, recruiting potential lab members, spending time with past and present Tufts trainees, and presenting our research ("Elucidating human spinal cord diversity with stem cells & single-cell RNA sequencing") at the BMES 2022 Annual meeting in San Antonio, TX! Excited to have received the Burroughs Young Investigator Award from BMES to help attend the meeting!

September 2022

September 30, 2022

Publication: New paper published! "Modular derivation of diverse, regionally discrete human posterior CNS neurons enables discovery of transcriptomic patterns" is now published in Science Advances! This was a great interdisciplinary collaboration between stem cell engineers and bioinformaticians, working together to develop and characterize diverse populations of neurons spanning the hindbrain through lumbar spinal cord. Congrats to all of the authors in the Iyer, Ashton, and Roy labs!


September 16, 2022

We are growing! Welcome to the first Iyer Lab member, undergrad Michelle Sun! Michelle will be working to help get the lab cleaned, organized, and ready for research to start.

August 2022

August 26, 2022

Publication: First paper out of the Iyer lab! Our mini review, "Bioengineering the Human Spinal Cord" is now published in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology! We provide a brief primer on  spinal cord developmental biology, 2D and 3D methods for differentiating spinal cells and tissues from human pluripotent stem cells, and bioengineering strategies to direct spinal organoid patterning and morphogenesis. 


August 1, 2022

The Iyer Stem Cell and Regeneration Lab has opened at Tufts University in the Department of Biomedical Engineering! We are excited to get science started soon!

Nisha was selected as a recipient of the Young Investigator Award for the 2022 BMES Annual Meeting. This prestigious award recognizes talented early career Postdoctoral Fellows or Early-Stage Faculty who have successfully submitted one of the highest-ranking general abstracts for the 2022 meeting. She will be speaking at the meeting in October.