Dr. Amander Clark, a stem cell biologist specializing in reproductive developmental biology, seeks to understand the underlying cell and molecular mechanisms that act during embryonic life to affect human fertility during adulthood, and child health in the next generation. Her ultimate goal is to improve reproductive and child health for the human population in the future. Notably, her research will aid in understanding and treating human infertility, a disease that affects around 10% of the US population between 15-44 years of age, tumors of the germline, which are one of the most common cancers to afflict young men between the ages of 15-35, and birth defects, which can arise through de novo mutations and epimutations in the germline prior to fertilization.
Dr. Clark’s work in stem cell biology began in 2002, as a Postdoctoral fellow in laboratory of Dr. Renee Reijo Pera at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). During this time, she studied not only the basic biology of human embryonic stem cells, but also the molecular mechanisms of human germline cell formation. During that time, only a small number of laboratories worldwide were performing research with human embryonic stem cells because of the technical challenges with expanding and differentiating these cells, together with the uncertain policy climate, especially in the United States. Despite these challenges Dr. Clark and Dr Reijo-Pera were the first to report that human germline cells could be differentiated from human embryonic stem cells. This work has been cited more than 500 times and was used as the basis for Dr. Clark’s research program at UCLA.
Dr. Clark is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental biology in the Division of Life Sciences, College of Letters and Science. Dr. Clark joined the UCLA faculty in 2006 as an Assistant Professor, was awarded tenure in 2012, Associate Professor and Vice Chair in 2013, Professor and Vice Chair in 2014 and Chair of the Department in 2017. Dr. Clark’s laboratory was the first to uncover the transcriptome of male and female human germline cells during prenatal life. This work is now used as a resource to measure germline quality with stem cell differentiation, and as a discovery tool to identify potential causes of human germ cell tumors. Dr Clark’s laboratory was also the first to map DNA methylation reprogramming in the human prenatal germline at single base resolution using next generation sequencing. Using these new tools, Dr. Clark is particularly interested in generating germline cells from stem cells to understand chromatin and epigenetic remodeling using CRISPR/Cas9, and how changes to chromatin or the epigenome in germline cells can lead to disease.
A member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, Dr. Clark is also affiliated with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Molecular Biology Institute and the Hinxton Group, an international consortium focused on stem cells, ethics and the law. She is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Society for the Study of Reproduction and the International Society for Stem Cell Research, a nonprofit organization that fosters the exchange of stem cell research information.
Dr Clark considers herself very fortuntate to be supported by the National Institutes of Health, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, STOP Cancer, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Fuller Foundation and the Lalor Foundation.