Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Andrew Cohen, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA

Andrew Cohen profile picture

Mapping human stem cell differentiation quantitatively and spatiotemporally at single cell resolution

11 Sep - 15 Dec 


Andrew Cohen is Associate Professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia and is an emerging world leader in image analysis and statistical pattern recognition.

Having formerly worked at Microsoft as a software design engineer in the DirectX group, where he designed operating systems software for gaming applications, and at Intel Corp, where he was a microprocessor product engineer, Prof Cohen obtained his PhD from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with Prof Badri Roysam in May 2008. After a
postdoctoral research on developing computational approaches for quantifying deficiencies in axonal organelle transport due to neurodegenerative diseases funded by the Huntington's Disease Foundation, he became Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where his group was based until joining the faculty in Drexel University in 2012. 

Prof Cohen is a world expert in developing image processing approaches for live cell and tissue microscopy and on the subsequent analysis of the data obtained from segmentation and tracking algorithms. His group has developed dozens of algorithms for segmentation, tracking and lineaging of live organelles and cells in 2-D and 3-D microscopy and their work has been published in many high impact journals including Nature Protocols, Nature Methods, Nature Communications and Nature. This includes
most notably a Nature letter co authored recently with Jennifer Lippincott Schwartz and Eric Betzig (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014), two world luminaries in microscopy and cell biology. 

Prof Cohen has taught through the years many graduate engineering courses in the area of Cell and Tissue Image Analysis and Statistical Pattern Recognition, and has supervised teams of engineers, mentored students at all levels, and successfully worked with a wide range of interdisciplinary collaborators. He is a senior member of the IEEE.

Project Summary

The Regenerative Medicine of the future will rely on being able to produce specifically and reliably “designer” tissues of choice (neurons, heart cells, liver cells) useable for tissue replacement in the clinic. This dream has become achievable thanks to the Nobel Prize winning discovery 10 years ago of human induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells, a revolutionary technology allowing any cells in our body to be converted into “pluripotent” stem cells from which almost any desired target tissue could be derived by differentiation in vitro. However, key challenges hinder the transition of iPS stem cell therapies into the clinic, in particular we do not yet understand how to control with precision the differentiation of iPS cells into the target tissues of choice, or why iPS cells derived from some people can be programmed better into target tissues than those from others. This collaboration aims to tackle those challenges.

The Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Dr Andrew Cohen (Drexel University, Philadelphia), is an emerging leader in bioimage analysis and statistical pattern recognition whose group developed a software called LEVER, which automatically identifies, tracks, lineages and analyses cellular populations imaged by time-lapse microscopy.

During his Sabbatical, Professor Cohen will work together with Professor Rafael Carazo Salas, from the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine in the University of Bristol. The Carazo Salas group has established a unique set of experimental technologies to culture in vitro human stem cells at scale, and to image microscopically for
days tens of thousands of stem cells decorated with “live” fluorescent reporters of cell growth, division and differentiation. This project will allow them to blend fully their complementary expertise and establish innovative multidisciplinary technologies to investigate for the first time the cellular features that earmark good quality stem cells from bad quality stem cells.

During his stay in Bristol, Professor Cohen will be hosted by Professor Rafael E. Carazo Salas (Cellular and Molecular Medicine).