December 2019: Meet the Fujisaki Lab



What is the main focus of your lab?

The main focus of our labo is to investigate novel immunological attributes of the stem cell niche, and test whether the niche acts as an immunological sanctuary for stem cells, which A) protects stem cells from inflammation and stress, B) promotes engraftment of transplanted allogeneic stem cells, and C) shields malignant stem cells from immune attack and therapeutic insults, including tumor immunotherapy.  

How long have you had your lab? When did you join Columbia University?

Seven years. 

Where is your lab located?

Black Building 15th floor.

Current affairs:

What are the most exciting projects/directions in the lab at this moment?

We have recently established an unprecedented understanding that the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche within the bone marrow acts as an immune privileged site which accommodates potent regulatory T cells (Tregs), leading to rigorous immune protection of normal, malignant and transplanted stem cells. Our work highlights these unique niche-residential Tregs as a potent source of cell therapy to promote engraftment and to mitigate hematopoiesis failure. We have furhter identified highly immune privileged, most primitve HSCs among others, and their highly immunoprotective niche which distributes differently from the previous understanding of the niche location.

What are the biggest accomplishments that your lab recently had?

Our work has been published in Cell Stem Cell and Haematologica. I have two active NIH R01s, one DOD, ASH Junior Faculty Basic Science Scholar Award, Shafer Scholar Award, and another pending NIH R01 that is highly likely to be funded very soon.


What are the key techniques that your lab is using? Are you open to training scientists from other labs?

We use transgenic mouse models, single cell/bulk RNA and T cell receptor sequencing, and high resolution two-photon/confocal microscopy which enabels whole mount tissue imaging, in vitro live cell imaging, as well as in vivo analysis of stem cell location, movement and interaction with niche cells with live small animals. Scientis from other labs can use our two-photon/confocal microscope within Columbia Center for Translational Immunology (CCTI) following training.

Who shall be contacted with questions about equipment, resources and training?

Joji Fujisaki, MD PhD at 


What would be your career advice for students/postdocs?

See both trees and woods. Consider not only what big authorities or those who you respect, are currently doing, but also what they were thinking and doing when they are at your age.

 Are you accepting rotating students at the moment?


Lab management:

Does your lab have any fun traditions?

Every time we have nice accomplishments to celebrate, we hang out to have dinner or drink!

What was the most exciting part about starting your new lab?

It is like I suddenly saw a very nice scenery during mountain climbing. That is the moment for me to re-consider about how far I have come, why the daily effort is important, how big the research field is, how much I did not know about the research/faculty business, and how far I will need to go from now.