Bennett Novitch, M.M.Sc., Ph.D.

A Short Biography:

Bennett Novitch, Ph.D, seeks to understand the mechanisms that direct the proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells, and subsequent assembly of neural circuits. Most of his research focuses on how this process is executed in the developing spinal cord leading to the formation of motor circuits that enable muscle movements. Through this work he hopes to find new ways to evaluate and understand injuries and diseases that affect motor functions and perhaps discover new ways to treat them. One of Dr. Novitch’s primary goals is to identify growth factor signals in the embryo that aid in neuron formation and the genetic pathways those signals stimulate in hopes of evoking a stem cell repair response to replace damaged cells and bolster muscle function. He also seeks to discover ways to coax healthy neurons to grow and make new connections to bypass damaged or diseased connections. Dr. Novitch also is exploring whether stem cells derived from patients with neurodegenerative diseases can be used to model these disorders. Dr. Novitch’s interest in stem cell research grew out of work he did as a graduate student, studying the gene regulatory network that enables the formation of skeletal muscle. As a post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Novitch identified growth factor signals and transcription factors that direct the formation of motor neurons in the spinal cord. His long-term goal is to discover how developmental mechanisms can be harnessed to program stem cells to form mature cells types with therapeutic and disease-modeling potential. His research already has led to the establishment of methods by which different classes of neurons, such as motor neurons, can be generated in culture from pluripotent stem cells and somatic cells. In addition to being a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, Dr. Novitch also is affiliated with the Brain Research Institute, UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Molecular Biology Institute and the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. He also is a member of the Society for Developmental Biology and the International Society for Stem Cell Research. An Associate Professor of Neurobiology, Dr. Novitch joined the UCLA faculty from the University of Michigan, where he was an Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. He earned his Master’s degree in Medical Sciences in 1993 from Harvard Medical School and his Doctoral degree in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology in 1998 from Harvard University. He also completed postdoctoral training at the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University. Dr. Novitch’s work is funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Work Titles
UCLA Professor, Neurobiology
M.M.Sc., Harvard Medical School
Ph.D., Harvard University
B.S., University of Vermont

Contact Information:

Email Address:

Work Email Address:


Novitch Lab Home Page

Work Phone Number:


Laboratory Address:

610 Charles E Young Dr. East
Department of Neurobiology
Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Mailing Address:

Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research
Department of Neurobiology
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
610 Charles E Young Dr. East
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Office Address:

Terasaki Life Sciences Building
Room 3024


Linares Anthony J, Lin Chia-Ho, Damianov Andrey, Adams Katrina L, Novitch Bennett G, Black Douglas L   The splicing regulator PTBP1 controls the activity of the transcription factor Pbx1 during neuronal differentiation eLife, 2015; 4: e09268.
Kong Jennifer H, Yang Linlin, Dessaud Eric, Chuang Katherine, Moore Destaye M, Rohatgi Rajat, Briscoe James, Novitch Bennett G   Notch Activity Modulates the Responsiveness of Neural Progenitors to Sonic Hedgehog Signaling Dev Cell, 2015; 33(4): 373-87.
Adams Katrina L, Rousso David L, Umbach Joy A, Novitch Bennett G   Foxp1-mediated programming of limb-innervating motor neurons from mouse and human embryonic stem cells Nat Commun, 2015; 6: 6778.
Pearson Caroline A, Butler Samantha J, Novitch Bennett G   Neuronal organization: unsticking the cadherin code Curr Biol, 2014; 24(23): R1127-9.
Niewiadomski Pawel, Kong Jennifer H, Ahrends Robert, Ma Yan, Humke Eric W, Khan Sohini, Teruel Mary N, Novitch Bennett G, Rohatgi Rajat   Gli protein activity is controlled by multisite phosphorylation in vertebrate hedgehog signaling Cell Rep, 2014; 6(1): 168-81.
Xu Ben, Hrycaj Steven M, McIntyre Daniel C, Baker Nicholas C, Takeuchi Jun K, Jeannotte Lucie, Gaber Zachary B, Novitch Bennett G, Wellik Deneen M   Hox5 interacts with Plzf to restrict Shh expression in the developing forelimb Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2013; 110(48): 19438-43.
Gaber Zachary B, Butler Samantha J, Novitch Bennett G   PLZF regulates fibroblast growth factor responsiveness and maintenance of neural progenitors PLoS Biol, 2013; 11(10): e1001676.
Kong Jennifer H, Butler Samantha J, Novitch Bennett G   My brain told me to do it Dev Cell, 2013; 25(5): 436-8.
Jacob John, Kong Jennifer, Moore Steven, Milton Christopher, Sasai Noriaki, Gonzalez-Quevedo Rosa, Terriente Javier, Imayoshi Itaru, Kageyama Ryoichiro, Kageyama Ryoichoro, Wilkinson David G, Novitch Bennett G, Briscoe James   Retinoid acid specifies neuronal identity through graded expression of Ascl1 Curr Biol, 2013; 23(5): 412-8.
Roy Agnes, Francius Cedric, Rousso David L, Seuntjens Eve, Debruyn Joke, Luxenhofer Georg, Huber Andrea B, Huylebroeck Danny, Novitch Bennett G, Clotman Frederic   Onecut transcription factors act upstream of Isl1 to regulate spinal motoneuron diversification Development, 2012; 139(17): 3109-19.
Wang Yuan, Kim Edward, Wang Xiaojing, Novitch Bennett G, Yoshikawa Kazuaki, Chang Long-Sheng, Zhu Yuan   ERK inhibition rescues defects in fate specification of Nf1-deficient neural progenitors and brain abnormalities Cell, 2012; 150(4): 816-30.
Rousso David L, Pearson Caroline Alayne, Gaber Zachary B, Miquelajauregui Amaya, Li Shanru, Portera-Cailliau Carlos, Morrisey Edward E, Novitch Bennett G   Foxp-mediated suppression of N-cadherin regulates neuroepithelial character and progenitor maintenance in the CNS Neuron, 2012; 74(2): 314-30.
Umbach Joy A, Adams Katrina L, Gundersen Cameron B, Novitch Bennett G   Functional neuromuscular junctions formed by embryonic stem cell-derived motor neurons PLoS One, 2012; 7(5): e36049.
Kang Peng, Lee Hyun Kyoung, Glasgow Stacey M, Finley Meggie, Donti Tataka, Gaber Zachary B, Graham Brett H, Foster Aaron E, Novitch Bennett G, Gronostajski Richard M, Deneen Benjamin   Sox9 and NFIA coordinate a transcriptional regulatory cascade during the initiation of gliogenesis Neuron, 2012; 74(1): 79-94.
Skaggs Kaia, Martin Donna M, Novitch Bennett G   Regulation of spinal interneuron development by the Olig-related protein Bhlhb5 and Notch signaling Development, 2011; 138(15): 3199-211.
Gaber Zachary B, Novitch Bennett G   All the embryo's a stage, and Olig2 in its time plays many parts Neuron, 2011; 69(5): 833-5.
Huettl Rosa-Eva, Soellner Heidi, Bianchi Elisa, Novitch Bennett G, Huber Andrea B   Npn-1 contributes to axon-axon interactions that differentially control sensory and motor innervation of the limb PLoS Biol, 2011; 9(2): e1001020.
Ribes Vanessa, Balaskas Nikolaos, Sasai Noriaki, Cruz Catarina, Dessaud Eric, Cayuso Jordi, Tozer Samuel, Yang Lin Lin, Novitch Ben, Marti Elisa, Briscoe James   Distinct Sonic Hedgehog signaling dynamics specify floor plate and ventral neuronal progenitors in the vertebrate neural tube Genes Dev, 2010; 24(11): 1186-200.
Dessaud Eric, Ribes Vanessa, Balaskas Nikolaos, Yang Lin Lin, Pierani Alessandra, Kicheva Anna, Novitch Bennett G, Briscoe James, Sasai Noriaki   Dynamic assignment and maintenance of positional identity in the ventral neural tube by the morphogen sonic hedgehog PLoS Biol, 2010; 8(6): e1000382.
Palmesino Elena, Rousso David L, Kao Tzu-Jen, Klar Avihu, Laufer Ed, Uemura Osamu, Okamoto Hitoshi, Novitch Bennett G, Kania Artur   Foxp1 and lhx1 coordinate motor neuron migration with axon trajectory choice by gating Reelin signalling PLoS Biol, 2010; 8(8): e1000446.
Novitch Bennett G, Butler Samantha J   Reducing the mystery of neuronal differentiation Cell, 2009; 138(6): 1062-4.
Karumbayaram Saravanan, Novitch Bennett G, Patterson Michaela, Umbach Joy A, Richter Laura, Lindgren Anne, Conway Anne E, Clark Amander T, Goldman Steve A, Plath Kathrin, Wiedau-Pazos Martina, Kornblum Harley I, Lowry William E   Directed differentiation of human-induced pluripotent stem cells generates active motor neurons Stem Cells, 2009; 27(4): 806-11.
Vue Tou Yia, Bluske Krista, Alishahi Amin, Yang Lin Lin, Koyano-Nakagawa Naoko, Novitch Bennett, Nakagawa Yasushi   Sonic hedgehog signaling controls thalamic progenitor identity and nuclei specification in mice J Neurosci, 2009; 29(14): 4484-97.
Rousso David L, Gaber Zachary B, Wellik Deneen, Morrisey Edward E, Novitch Bennett G   Coordinated actions of the forkhead protein Foxp1 and Hox proteins in the columnar organization of spinal motor neurons Neuron, 2008; 59(2): 226-40.
Briscoe James, Novitch Bennett G   Regulatory pathways linking progenitor patterning, cell fates and neurogenesis in the ventral neural tube Phil Trans Royal Soc B, 2008; 363(1489): 57-70.
Dessaud Eric, Yang Lin Lin, Hill Katy, Cox Barny, Ulloa Fausto, Ribeiro Ana, Mynett Anita, Novitch Bennett G, Briscoe James   Interpretation of the sonic hedgehog morphogen gradient by a temporal adaptation mechanism Nature, 2007; 450(7170): 717-20.
Mukouyama Yoh-suke, Deneen Benjamin, Lukaszewicz Agnès, Novitch Bennett G, Wichterle Hynek, Jessell Thomas M, Anderson David J   Olig2+ neuroepithelial motoneuron progenitors are not multipotent stem cells in vivo Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2006; 103(5): 1551-6.
Marshall Christine A G, Novitch Bennett G, Goldman James E   Olig2 directs astrocyte and oligodendrocyte formation in postnatal subventricular zone cells J Neurosci, 2005; 25(32): 7289-98.
Bylund Magdalena, Andersson Elisabeth, Novitch Bennett G, Muhr Jonas   Vertebrate neurogenesis is counteracted by Sox1-3 activity Nature Neurosci, 2003; 6(11): 1162-8.
Qu Jian, Li Xiaofan, Novitch Bennet G, Zheng Ye, Kohn Matthew, Xie Jian-Ming, Kozinn Spencer, Bronson Roderick, Beg Amer A, Minden Audrey   PAK4 kinase is essential for embryonic viability and for proper neuronal development Mol Cell Biol, 2003; 23(20): 7122-33.
Novitch Bennett G, Wichterle Hynek, Jessell Thomas M, Sockanathan Shanthini   A requirement for retinoic acid-mediated transcriptional activation in ventral neural patterning and motor neuron specification Neuron, 2003; 40(1): 81-95.
Novitch B G, Spicer D B, Kim P S, Cheung W L, Lassar A B   pRb is required for MEF2-dependent gene expression as well as cell-cycle arrest during skeletal muscle differentiation Curr Biol, 1999; 9(9): 449-59.
Sellers W R, Novitch B G, Miyake S, Heith A, Otterson G A, Kaye F J, Lassar A B, Kaelin W G   Stable binding to E2F is not required for the retinoblastoma protein to activate transcription, promote differentiation, and suppress tumor cell growth Genes Dev, 1998; 12(1): 95-106.
Skapek S X, Rhee J, Kim P S, Novitch B G, Lassar A B   Cyclin-mediated inhibition of muscle gene expression via a mechanism that is independent of pRB hyperphosphorylation Mol Cell Biol, 1996; 16(12): 7043-53.
Halevy O, Novitch B G, Spicer D B, Skapek S X, Rhee J, Hannon G J, Beach D, Lassar A B   Correlation of terminal cell cycle arrest of skeletal muscle with induction of p21 by MyoD Science, 1995; 267(5200): 1018-21.
Lassar A B, Skapek S X, Novitch B   Regulatory mechanisms that coordinate skeletal muscle differentiation and cell cycle withdrawal Curr Opin Cell Biol, 1994; 6(6): 788-94.

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