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Jeanne Frances Loring (born May 4, 1950) is an American stem cell biologist, developmental neurobiologist, and geneticist. She is the director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and professor at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.
Education and early life
Loring was born on May 4, 1950, in Tucson, Arizona, to William and Elizabeth Loring. She has one sister, Anne Loring, who is an attorney. Her father had a Ph.D. in geology, and his job as a uranium and copper prospector required that the family move frequently. Loring grew up in mining towns in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Bill Loring was an intellectual, and at home, he filled in the gaps of her small-town education. In 1967, Loring was selected as a National Merit Scholar, which allowed her to attend the University of Washington in Seattle, where she completed a bachelor of science degree, magna cum laude, in molecular biology in 1972. and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Loring began her graduate studies as a National Science Foundation Research Fellow in the newly established Institute for Molecular Biology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where she became interested in stem cell development through her research on neural crest cells. She earned her Ph.D. in 1979 and began work as a visiting assistant professor at the University of California Davis.
After completing her doctoral work, Loring spent 5 years studying and lecturing on embryology and neurobiology at UC Davis before moving to Hana Biologics in 1987. As staff scientist at Hana Biologics, Loring’s work included study of cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease. Loring remained in the biotech industry and began to focus more on genomics, working as a senior scientist at GenPharm International (1989–1995), senior research fellow at Molecular Dynamics (1995–1997), senior director at Incyte Genomics (1997–2001) and as chief scientific officer and founder at Arcos BioScience (1997-2003). At GenPharm, Loring worked on gene editing in mouse embryonic stem cells, and creation of mouse models for human disease. Loring founded Arcos Bioscience in part to work on human embryonic stem cells and derived 9 of the human embryonic stem cell preparations that were approved for federal funding by President George W. Bush in 2001. Arcos merged with Cythera, now renamed Viacyte, and In 2004 Loring moved to academia, serving as the founding Co-Director of the Stem Cell Center at the Burnham Institute (now called the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute). In 2007, Loring moved to The Scripps Research Institute, where she is currently the director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and professor in the Department of Chemical Physiology. Her research is currently focused on human pluripotent stem cells, a remarkable cell type made by reprogramming adult cells to an embryonic state, making them capable of developing into all of the cell types in the body. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles, which have been cited nearly 5,000 times. She holds 5 patents on transgenic methods, Alzheimer disease, and stem cells.
Loring is an advocate for patient education and against stem cell tourism, and has frequently spoken out on these subjects including commentaries in ethics journals with bioethicist Mary Devereaux. She has also commented on the ethics of stem cell research in articles with ethicist Jonathan Moreno and pro-life advocate Christine Scheller. She often guest blogs on the stem cell blog, The Niche, describing her experiences, such as attending an FDA public meeting on Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. For her outspoken support of patients and advocacy of stem cell research she was awarded the Stem Cell Person of the Year award in 2015  and received a 2015 Stem Cell Action Advocacy Award from the Genetics Policy Institute, which hosts the World Stem Cell Summit.
Genomics and epigenetics
A major theme of the research that Loring oversees is focused on the study of genomics and epigenetics of pluripotent stem cells, with the goal of ensuring their validity for drug development and their safety for cell therapy. Loring oversaw the development of PluriTest, an animal-free, molecular test of pluripotency which uses gene expression array data to assess pluripotency of novel cell lines. PluriTest was licensed to the Coriell Institute in January 2016. She has also done analysis of genomic integrity of cells in culture, and a comparative analysis the mutational loads of different reprogramming methods.
Parkinson's disease cell replacement therapy
Loring is principal investigator for a cell therapy in development for Parkinson's disease. Her work is funded by the patient advocacy group Summit For Stem Cell. The goal of the project is to produce autologous (patient-specific) dopaminergic neurons differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for use as a cell replacement therapy. The approach of using autologous cells ensures that they will not be rejected after transplantation. The project is notable for the high level of community involvement, including fundraisers, lab tours, and community education.
Multiple sclerosis therapy development
Loring is developing a cell based therapy for multiple sclerosis. Along with collaborators at the University of California Irvine, Loring demonstrated that a type of human neural precursor cells derived from pluripotent stem cells can restore motor function in a mouse model of MS. The transplanted cells do not permanently engraft within the mouse but the recovery process continues for several months before stabilizing. The goal of this research is to identify the mechanism by which the human cells induced recovery from paralysis in the mouse. This knowledge is to be used to develop a novel evidence-based therapy for MS.
Fragile X syndrome is a genetic form of autism, and Loring's laboratory is using iPSCs derived from Fragile X patients to understand the causes of the disease. The goal of this research is to understand how autism affects brain development. Because the project uses iPSCs that are developed into the neurons affected in autism, the work has the potential to lead to identification of drugs to treat Fragile X and autism.
The Stem Cell Zoo
Loring and her postdoctoral fellow, Inbar Friedrich Ben-Nun, were the first to report the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells from endangered species. IPSCs were generated from a primate, the drill Mandrillus leucophaeus and the nearly extinct northern white rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum cottoni. There are only three northern white rhinos left in the world, and the hope is that the iPSCs can be differentiated into sperm and egg cells to generate new animals. "If everything falls into place and everything works, there is a way to generate new animals," said Loring in an interview with Nature News. The project is a collaboration with The Frozen Zoo at the San Diego Zoo, which has collected samples from thousands of animals including twelve northern white rhinos. “It’s really brilliant in retrospect that when animals die, you can freeze some of their cells and they’ll last forever,” said Loring. In December 2015, an expert meeting was convened in Vienna, Austria, "Conservation by cellular technologies" where a plan was devised to rescue the northern white rhino and a white paper was recently published detailing this plan.
Awards and honors
Loring has received numerous awards and accolades, including the 2015 Stem Cell Action Advocacy Award, The 2015 Stem Cell Person of the Year, a Millipore Foundation Stem Cell Research Award, an Esther O'Keefe Foundation Award for Stem Cell Research, The Burnham Institute for Medical Research Leadership Award and the Marie and Jimmy Mayer Award for Melanoma Research. She was a National Merit Scholar (1968) and received a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. 2017 Jeanne Loring has been invited to join the prestigious international group of researchers working toward development of cell replacement therapies for Parkinson's disease, called G-Force PD.
Loring is married to fellow scientist David L. Barker, former chief scientific officer of the genomics biotechnology company Illumina, Inc. Loring and Barker enjoy traveling and often travel to wherever in the world has the best viewing of total solar eclipses, including Easter Island, Bolivia, Russia, Turkey, Indonesia and Australia. Loring has experienced 16 eclipses. Thirteen were total, in which the moon completely eclipsed the sun for up to 5 minutes, and 3 were annular, in which the moon covered all but the edges of the sun. She has logged a total time in the darkness of the eclipsed sun of more than 41 minutes
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- Loring, Jeanne; Glimelius, Bengt; Weston, James A. (1982-03-01). "Extracellular matrix materials influence quail neural crest cell differentiation in vitro". Developmental Biology. 90 (1): 165–174. doi:10.1016/0012-1606(82)90222-6.
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