Marina Emborg, MD, PhD

Position title: Professor, Medical Physics


Phone: 608-262-9714

Organ System/Disease Focus:
Neurodegenerative disorders, Parkinson’s disease
Aligned Research Focus:
Nonhuman primate models, neuroprotection, stem cells, dopaminergic neurons, drug delivery


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Dr. Emborg is also a Senior Scientist, Wisconsin National Primate Research Center and Director, Preclinical Parkinson’s Research Program —WNPRC

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:
  • Tao Y, Vermilyea SC, Zammit M, Lu J, Olsen M, Metzger JM, Yao L, Chen Y, Phillips S, Holden JE, Bondarenko V, Block WF, Barnhart TE, Schultz-Darken N, Brunner K, Simmons H, Christian BT, Emborg ME, Zhang SC. Autologous transplant therapy alleviates motor and depressive behaviors in parkinsonian monkeys. Nat Med. 2021 Apr;27(4):632-639. doi: 10.1038/s41591-021-01257-1. Epub 2021 Mar 1. PMID: 33649496; PMCID: PMC8198752
  • Vermilyea SC, Emborg M. In Vitro Modeling of Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) G2019S-Mediated Parkinson’s Disease Pathology. Stem Cells Dev. 2018 Feb 5. doi: 10.1089/scd.2017.0286. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 29402177
  • Vermilyea SC, Guthrie S, Meyer M, Smuga-Otto K, Braun K, Howden S, Thomson JA, Zhang SC, Emborg ME, Golos TG., induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Dopaminergic Neurons from Adult Common Marmoset Fibroblasts. Stem Cells Dev. 2017 Sep 1;26(17):1225-1235. doi: 10.1089/scd.2017.0069. Epub 2017 Jul 24.
  • 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