Jan Nolta, director of the Stem Cell Program and Gene Therapy Center at the Institute for Regenerative Cures, received the 2022 UC Davis Chancellor’s Lifetime Achievement in Innovation Award. This award recognizes researchers whose career accomplishments include innovations leading to a long-term positive impact on the lives of others and who are an inspiring influence for other innovators.

During the past few years, Nolta has been collaborating with an interdisciplinary team, including UC Davis professors Mehrdad Abedi, Joseph Tuscano and Gerhard Bauer to pioneer the California CAR-T program for cancer patients. To advance this innovation, Nolta’s group is cultivating potent cancer killer cells to treat leukemia and lymphoma in relapsed patients. The approach may tackle kidney, ovarian and bladder cancers down the line. The team is helping to facilitate changes that would drive the cost of CAR-T therapies down while increasing accessibility so that lifesaving, cutting-edge therapies can be made available to all patients in an equitable manner.

Nolta’s current research is focused on developing therapies that will use mesenchymal stem cells to help treat Huntington’s disease and other disorders and injuries. She is the scientific director of the Good Manufacturing Practice clean room facility at UC Davis, where stem cells of various types are being isolated or expanded for clinical trials.

Nolta’s desire to serve the community and to benefit the lives of people has been one of the major driving forces for many of her career accomplishments. Her group focuses on “bench-to-bedside” research, and she has been involved in numerous clinical trials of gene and cell therapies. Nolta has been an advocate of a diverse science and health care workforce of the future and is currently leading or assisting with numerous training programs. Her passion is in training other first-generation students, and those from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences.