The Center for Modeling Pediatric Disease is a state-of-the-art shared resource with the mission to automate stem cell research and provide an unprecedented repository of patient-derived stem cells for disease modeling and preclinical studies. The automated system is contained in a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) II Type A2 enclosure for both sample and personnel protection. The automated setup can easily be adapted for high throughput reprogramming as well as differentiation into a variety of lineages as determined by the needs of St. Jude investigators. As the CMPD continues to develop under the direction of Dr. Sunita D’Souza, investigators will have increasing opportunities to leverage this phenomenal resource.

Biorepository Overview
Biorepository Overview


The ability to faithfully model pediatric disease is central to the translational discovery process. The CMPD will provide investigators with the resources and technologies necessary to create reprogrammed stem cell populations from patient samples, expand these into appropriate cell types for further investigation, and bank them for future interrogation. The pace and scale of iPSC generation is daunting for individual labs, but with this dedicated facility, St. Jude investigators, and global collaborators, will be able to generate the materials and tools needed to explore disease mechanisms and evaluate preclinical and clinical approaches. 


The generated iPSC cells and resulting models with be a shared resource for St. Jude investigators, but it’s really for researchers around the globe. By freely sharing these models, we aim to accelerate research worldwide.

Michael Dyer, Member


  • Generate patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from skin, blood, tissue, and urine
  • Differentiate iPSCs into various cell lineages
  • Expand and bank patient-derived iPSCs for future use
  • Extract DNA/RNA from patient-derived samples for downstream genomic assays

Technology and equipment

  • Microlab VANTAGE Liquid Handling System
  • LabElite Capper/DeCapper
  • Biotek Cytation V Cell Imaging Multi-Mode Reader
  • Kingfisher Flex DNA/RNA Purification System
  • Thermo Scientific F7 Robotic Arm
  • Bionex HiG4 Automated Centrifuge
  • Cytomat 24 Automated Incubator (500 plate capacity)
  • Thermo Scientific Platefeeder Carousel
  • EnviroFlo BSC II Enclosure


Geoffrey Neale

Sunita D’Souza, PhD

Dr. Sunita D’Souza completed her PhD in Biomedical Sciences under the mentorship of Gordon Keller, PhD, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, in 2005. Here, she studied the role of Scl in murine blood development. She continued her postdoctoral research in Dr. Keller’s lab, shifting to the study of blood development in human embryonic stem cells. In 2007, she established the first Institutional Stem Cell Core Facility in the United States within the Black Family Stem Cell Institute at Mount Sinai under the leadership of Ihor Lemischka, PhD. Dr. D’Souza was among the first to generate human disease-specific induced pluripotent stem cells. In collaboration with other Stem Cell Core Facility leaders, she established Stem Cell COREdinates, a consortium of human pluripotent stem cell cores that shares expertise with protocols, reagents and technological advancements to establish “best practices”. In 2019, she came to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to set up a fully Automated Stem Cell Reprogramming Core, beginning with the automation of large-scale generation patient specific induced pluripotent stem cells followed by automation of their differentiation into various terminally differentiated lineages as determined by the needs of the investigator.