On 16 January 2024, Medical University–Varna held a public defence of the doctoral thesis of Dr. Martin Ivanov for the acquisition of ESD Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Medicine. The topic of his thesis is: “Proliferation and Differentiation of Progenitor Cells in the Subventricular Area in the Adult Primate Hindbrain”. 

Dr. Ivanov is a young researcher (R1) in the TRANSTEM project, involved in the scientific group dealing with neural stem cells. He has been examining the expression of four genes in an area of the brain, called SVZa, which continues to store stem cells even in adults. The TRANSTEM project team is headed by ERA Chair Dr. Manlio Vinciguerra. The scientists have phenotyped the genes TNC, GJA1, CD38 and APLNR on histological sections of a primate brain. The goal they set themselves is to single out a group of cells located in the SVZ – cells positive for these genes and to investigate their nature, whether they are stem cells or their daughter cells, i.e. derived from them. “We found that all four genes are expressed in dormant neuronal stem cells and that their expression decreases with differentiation. In addition, we described the nature of one of the genes – the APLNR (Apelin receptor), due to the possibility of being influenced pharmacologically. We found that it is expressed by both stem cells and cells associated with the neurogenic zone,” explains Dr. Martin Ivanov.

During the research, TRANSTEM scientists have also discovered that stem cells in the adult brain are localised primarily in the subventricular zone, lining the lateral ventricular zone (subventricular zone, SVZ). The SVZ zone extends from the anterior horn of the lateral ventricle (anterior SVZ; SVZa) to its temporal/inferior horn (inferior SVZ, SVZi), with only the SVZa having the ability to form neurons from stem cells.

Dr. Martin Ivanov is the first of the young researchers in the team of TRANSTEM who has defended a Ph.D. thesis on the subject of the project – Translational Stem Cell Biology. He continues his research in the field of neural stem cells, as well as his teaching activities at the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology of Medical University–Varna.