Marina Emborg

Marina Emborg
Senior Scientist, Wisconsin National Primate Research Center; Director, Preclinical Parkinson's Research Program - WNPRC; Associate Professor, Department of Medical Physics


Wisconsin National Primate Research Center /Medical Physics

Organ System/Disease Focus: 

Neurodegenerative disorders, Parkinson’s disease

Aligned Research Focus: 

Nonhuman primate models, neuroprotection, stem cells, dopaminergic neurons, drug delivery

Research Description: 

My lab focuses on understanding the physiopathology of, and developing treatments for neurological disorders, in particular Parkinson's disease. We are working toward developing better animal models of neurodegenerative disorders and therapeutic delivery systems, as well as identifying therapeutic targets that can affect disease development. We evaluate cell-based therapy approaches using stem cells, embryonic, progenitors and iPS. in the nonhuman primate brain. Ex vivo and in vivo approaches are used to deliver therapeutic molecules in the brain such as glial derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) on existing dopaminergic neurons in the brains of parkinsonian animal models. As a lab focused in clinical translation, the ethical considerations of what is needed to bring a therapy to the patients guide our research.

Selected References: 

  • Vermilyea SC, Emborg ME., The role of nonhuman primate models in the development of cell-based therapies for Parkinson's disease. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2017 Mar 22. doi: 10.1007/s00702-017-1708-9. [Epub ahead of print] Review.
  • Vermilyea SC, Lu J, Olsen M, Guthrie S, Tao Y, Fekete EM, Riedel MK, Brunner K, Boettcher C, Bondarenko V, Brodsky E, Block WF, Alexander A, Zhang SC, Emborg ME., Real-Time Intraoperative MRI Intracerebral Delivery of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neurons. Cell Transplant. 2017 Apr 13;26(4):613-624. doi: 10.3727/096368916X692979. Epub 2016 Sep 14. PMID: 27633706
  • Emborg ME, Zhang Z, Joers V, Brunner K, Bondarenko V, Ohshima S, Zhang SC., Intracerebral transplantation of differentiated human embryonic stem cells to hemiparkinsonian monkeys. Cell Transplant. 2013;22(5):831-8. doi: 10.3727/096368912X647144.PMID: 23594934
  • Emborg ME, Liu Y, Xi J, Zhang X, Yin Y, Lu J, Joers V, Swanson C, Holden JE, Zhang SC., Induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neural cells survive and mature in the nonhuman primate brain. Cell Rep. 2013 Mar 28;3(3):646-50. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.02.016. Epub 2013 Mar 14. PMID: 23499447
  • Cibelli J, Emborg ME, Prockop DJ, Roberts M, Schatten G, Rao M, Harding J, Mirochnitchenko O., Strategies for improving animal models for regenerative medicine. Cell Stem Cell. 2013 Mar 7;12(3):271-4. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2013.01.004. PMID: 23472868


Neural Regeneration