Gong Laboratory

The Gong laboratory focuses on the regenerative capability of intrinsic bladder smooth muscle progenitor stem cells (BSMSCs) to restore function to the obstructed bladder. Intrinsic bladder stem cells can potentially prevent loss of bladder function or restore function in patients whose bladder function has already deteriorated. Furthermore, understanding the signaling pathways behind functional deterioration of the bladder wall may lead to earlier detection in patients, thus avoiding further bladder and kidney problems. The Gong laboratory intends to understand the role of BSMSCs in order to prevent and reverse the maladaptive response of end-stage bladders to outlet obstruction.

Current research projects

Bladder Muscle Stem Cells

The Gong laboratory is interested in the response of BSMSCs after obstruction and cystectomy. Based on our findings, we hope to be the first to define the role of these intrinsic stem cells in remodeling of the mouse bladder.

The Effect of Stem Cell Population Loss on the Function of an Obstructed Bladder

Using genetically altered mice we will ablate BSMSCs in the bladder and then test how bladders respond to obstruction and cystectomy.

Repopulation of Obstruction Injured Bladders With Bladder Muscle Stem Cells

Using fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) we will purify BSMSCs from healthy bladders. Then these cells will be injected into the bladder walls of obstructed and regenerating bladders.

The Role of the Androgen Receptor (AR) and Effect of AR Pathway Blockade on Bladder Detrusor Hypertrophy in the Setting of Partial Bladder Obstruction

We have observed that castration reduces bladder fibrosis after obstruction. We believe that this effect is mediated by testosterone and the androgen receptor (AR) pathway. We are currently investigating if pharmacological intervention targeting the AR pathway will limit fibrosis caused by obstruction. We will then use genetically altered mice to determine if differentiation of BSMSCs is altered by testosterone.


List of publications indexed in PubMed​ by ​the Gong laboratory

Laboratory Members

  • Natalie A. Kukulka, Research Associate
  • Paula Firmiss, Research Associate
  • Diana Bowen, MD, Northwestern University Resident

Past Laboratory Members

  • Meredith Lilly, ResearMeredith Lilly, Research Associate
  • Grace Delos Santos, MD, Loyola Resident
  • Drew Flum, MD, Northwestern University Resident
  • Michael Ross, MD, Loyola Resident

Contact Information

Phone: 773.755.6371