Tanja Dominko, PhD
Dr. Tanja Dominko obtained her Ph.D. in Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During her 22-year career as a scientist, she has established and maintained strong externally funded research programs and collaborations in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.
She pursued her early interests in molecular regulation of gametogenesis and early embryonic development during the years of paradigm-shifting discoveries. The cloning of Dolly and derivation of human embryonic stem cells at UW-Madison have ever since motivated her research in regenerative medicine. Along the way, her research spanned embryonic and stem cell biology in non-human primates, development of non-embryonic sources of pluripotent cells for cell therapy, to research on molecular mechanisms that could be explored to direct cells in situto shift their response to injury from scar formation to regeneration.
Motivated by regeneration capabilities of Axolotl, orchestrated by connective tissue fibroblasts, her laboratory at Worcester Polytechnic Institute has been investigating the molecular basis of fibroblast phenotype switching during wound healing – from a contractile, collagen producing to a pro-regenerative phenotype and focus specifically on contribution of connective tissue fibroblasts in regeneration and derivation of skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscle cells.
Finally, her recent efforts have extended to incorporating fibroblast biology with bio-inspired tissue engineering in collaboration with UW-Madison. Her research has been supported by the Department of Defense, National Institute of Health, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and European Commission. Her work has been published in top peer-reviewed journals, she holds several issued patents and licenses, participates on national and international review panels and journal editorial boards. She was recognized for her contributions to science by the Slovene National Academy of Sciences as the Ambassador of Science.