Walter C. Low, PhD

Professor, Department of Neurosurgery

Walter C. Low

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-626-9203

Office Address:
Neurosurgery Department
2001 6th St SE, Rm 4-216
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Mailing Address:
2873J (Campus Delivery Code)
2001 6th St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Fellowship, University of Cambridge

PhD, University of Michigan (Bioengineering)

MS, University of Michigan

BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California


Dr. Walter Low is a Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and serves as the Associate Head for Research. He earned his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Michigan, and was a National Science Foundation/NATO Fellow in Neurophysiology/Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge in England. He is currently Director of the Research Laboratories in the Department of Neurosurgery.

Dr. Low was formerly on the faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine where he was the Director of the Graduate Program in Physiology and Biophysics. He has served as a member of numerous grant review study sections for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Veterans Administration Medical Centers.

The h-index for the scientific impact of Dr. Low’s research publications is ranked above the 95th percentile among faculty in neurosurgery departments in the United States. 

Awards & Recognition

  • Who’s Who in America, 2002, 2005, 2007
  • Who’s Who in Medical Science Education, 2005
  • Thorne Stroke Award – Minnesota Medical Foundation, 2003
  • Who’s Who in Stem Cell Research, 2003
  • American Men and Women of Science, 2002
  • Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, 2002


Research Summary/Interests

Dr. Low’s research is focused on translating neuroscience developments from the laboratory to the clinic. He has been involved in a number of technologies that include neural progenitor/stem cell therapies, gene therapies, neuroprotective therapies, and medical devices for treating a variety of neurological conditions. Neural disorders of interest include ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, Parkinson’s disease, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, lysosomal storage disorders of the brain, Huntington’s disease, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Low’s group was the first to:

  • Demonstrate that the transplantation of cholinergic neurons into the hippocampal formation could restore learning and memory function in a rat model of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Demonstrate the efficacy of immunotherapy for eradicating intracranial tumors in rodents
  • Receive FDA approval for clinical trials in the United States to study the efficacy of deep brain stimulation for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Research Funding Grants

  • 2015-2018, Department of Defense, “Exogenic Human Heart in Gene-Edited Animals,” $2,340,480 (co-investigator)
  • 2015-2016, Stem Cell Institute, Adjacent Possible Research Grant Program, University of Minnesota, “Interrogating Human Stem Cells for Engineering Human Organs/Cells via Blastocyst Complementation,” $73,467 (principal investigator)
  • 2015-2016, Institute for Engineering in Medicine, University of Minnesota, “Generating Human Hematopoietic Cells in the Pig as a Biological Incubator,” $24,573 (principal investigator)
  • 2015-2016, Institute for Engineering in Medicine, University of Minnesota, “Genesis Project for Organ, Tissue, and Cell Engineering,” $59,994 (principal investigator)
  • 2015-2016, Wallin Neuroscience Discovery Fund, University of Minnesota, “Creating Young Blood to Rejuvenate Old Brains,” $125,000 (principal investigator)
  • 2014-2016, National Institutes of Health, “Image-Guided Transcranial Focused Ultrasound Therapy for Neurological Disorders” NIH-R21-NS087887, $392,169 (co-principal investigator)
  • 2014-2016, Stem Cell Institute, Adjacent Possible Research Grant Program, University of Minnesota, “Creating Human Dopamine Neurons in Human-Pig Chimeras for Parkinson Disease,” $50,000 (principal investigator)
  • 2014-2016, MnDRIVE Program, University of Minnesota, “DNA Nanotechnology – Developing and Analyzing a New Tool for Sensing and Targeting Disease,” $500,000 (co-investigator)
  • 2014-2015 Center for AIDS Research, University of Minnesota, “Creating Humanized Mice from the Inside-Out to Test the Feasibility of using the CCR5-delta32 Mutation to Treat HIV Infection,” $12,000 (co-principal investigator)
  • 2014-2015, Institute of Engineering in Medicine, University of Minnesota, “Organ, Tissue, and Cell Engineering,” $20,000 (principal investigator)
  • 2014-2015, ReGenex, “AAV Mediated Gene Transfer to the CNS for MPS II” $367,416 (co-investigator)
  • 2014-2015, Sangamo, Targeted IDUA and IDS expression for MPS I and MPS II $277,270 (co-investigator) 
  • 2011-2016, National Institutes of Health, “Gene Therapy for Metabolic Disorders”, PO1-HD-32652, $7.2 million – total cost (Director, Core B; co-investigator, Project II) 
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Dr. Low's publications have received 7,185 citations in the scientific literature. The h-index for the scientific impact of these publications is ranked above the 95th percentile among faculty in neurosurgery departments in the United States. 


  • Olin M, Low WC, McKenna DH, Haines SJ, Tambra D, Nacene D, Gustafson MP, Dietz AB, Clark HB, ChenW, Blazar B, Ohlfest JR, and Moertel C, Vaccination with dendritic cells loaded with allogeneic brain tumor stem cells for recurrent and progressive malignant brain tumors induces a CD4+IL17+ response, Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer, ePub ahead of print doi:10.1186/2051-1426-2-4 (2014)
  • Vang S, Longley K, Steer CJ, and Low WC, The unexpected uses of urso- and tauroursodeoxycholic acid in the treatment of non-liver diseases, Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 3:62-73 (2014)
  • Stone LL, Low WC, and Grande A. Stem cell therapies for ischemic stroke, in Stem Cells in Neurodegenerative Disease, Ed. by L Lescaudron, J Rossignol, and GL Dunbar, CRC Press, London, UK, pgs. 142-156 (2014)
  • Neuss ND, Peirson MJ, Montaniel KRC, McPherson SW, Lehmann U, Hussong SA, Ferrington DA, Low WC, and Gregerson DA, Retinal dendritic cell recruitment is inhibited in MyD88 and TRIF deficient mice, Journal of Neuroinflammation, ePub ahead of print, doi:10.1186/s12974-014-0143-1 (2014)
  • Wolf DA, Banerjee S, Hackett PB, Whitley CB, McIvor RS, and Low WC, Gene therapy for nervous system manifestations of mucopolysaccharidoses, Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery,10(2):e0116788.doi (2015)
  • Satzer D, DiBartolomeao C, Ritchie MM, Storino C, Idiyatullin D, Mangia S, Michaeli S, Parr AM, and Low WC, Assessment of dysmyelination with RAFF MRI – application to murine MPS I, PLoS ONE 10(2) e0116788, koi 10.1371 (2015)
  • Divani AA, Murphy AJ, Meints J, Sadeghi-Bzargani H, Nordberg J, Monga M, Low WC, Bhatia PM, Beilman GJ, and Santa Cruz KS, A novel preclinical model of moderate primary blast-induced traumatic brain injury, Journal of Neurotrauma Epub ahead of print (2015)
  • Terzic D, Maxon JR, Krevitt L, DiBartolomeo, Goyal T, Low WC, Dutton JR, and Parr AM, Directed differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells from mouse induced pluripotent stem cells, Cell Transplantation, Epub ahead of print (2015)
  • Satzer, D, Miller, C, Maxon J, Dibartolomeo C, Dutton JR, Low WC, and Parr AM, T cell deficiency in spinal cord injury – altered locomotor recovery and whole-genome transcriptional analysis, Experimental Neurology (in revision, 2015)
  • Stone LLH, Xiao F, Rotshafer J, Juliano M, Sanberg CD, Sanberg PR, Kuzmin-Nichol N, Grande A, Cheeran MC, and Low WC. Amelioration of ischemic brain injury in rats with human umbilical cord blood stem cells: Mechanisms of action, Experimental Neurology (submitted, 2015).
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Invited Presentations

  • Lillihei Heart Institute, University of Minnesota, “Stem Cells for Ischemic Brain Injury", Minneapolis, 2015
  • St. Thomas University, “Translational Neuroscience in Neurodegenerative Diseases,” St. Paul, MN, 2013
  • Institute for Engineering in Medicine Symposium on The Heart-Brain Connection, “Stem Cells for the Protection of the Brain and Heart”, Minneapolis, MN, 2011
  • Minnesota Mini Medical School, “Cancer Vaccines for Treating Brain Tumors”, University of Minnesota, Medical School, Minneapolis, MN, 2011
  • Frontiers in Biomedical Research Symposium, “Stem Cells for Neural Repair,” Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, 2010
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  • Naylor MC, Negia M, Noetzel M, Demorest ZL, and Low WC, Heparan sulfate mediates neuroprotection from degeneration in experimental glutaric aciduria, American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair Abstracts, Experimental Neurology 198:582-583, 2006
  • Xin J, Noetzel M, Demorest ZL, Carlson G, Ashe KH, and Low WC, Decreased proliferation of endogenous neural stem cells in transgenic tau Alzheimer's mice, American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair Abstracts, Experimental Neurology 198:595, 2006
  • Gao Y, Zu T, Low WC, Orr HT and McIvor RS, Antisense RNA Sequences Modulating the Ataxin-1 Message: Molecular Model of Gene Therapy for Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1, a Dominant- Acting Unstable Trinucleotide Repeat Disease, Proceedings of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair, 2007
  • Nikas J, and Low WC, Mathematical analyses of in vivo Proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (1H NMRS) in the diagnosis, assessment of clinical change, and metabolomic investigation of the underlying causes of the neuropathology of Huntington’s disease in R6/2 transgenic mice, Proceedings of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair, 2008
  • Chen Y, Zhong J, Chandler M, Low WC, Zhang J, and Yu X, Long-term effects of human umbilical cord stem cells on myocardial function in post-infarct rat heart, Proceedings of the American Heart Association Annual Meeting, 2009
  • Nan Z, Belur L, Wolf D, Gunther R, Whitley C, McIvor RS, and Low WC, Central nervous system biodistribution of AAV5-GFP following intraventricular administration in neonatal and adult mice, Proceedings of the American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair, 2010
  • Divani AA, Bhatia P, Hartly EW, Low WC, Monga M, Beilman G. A New Novel Model of Blast Traumatic Brain Injury. The 1st International Congress of Interventional Neurology, Minneapolis, MN. Oct 6-8, 2011
  • Nan Z, Podetz-Pederson KM, Muenzer J, Low WC, and McIvor RS, Spatial navigation and working memory tests demonstrate neurological deficits in a murine model of mucopolysaccharidosis Tye II (Hunter syndrome). Proceedings of the WORLD Conference, 2012
  • Xiao F, Juliano M, Stone LL, Mihalko H, Vinodkumar D,Suresh M, Nan C. Kuzmin-Nichols N, Sanberg CD, Sanberg PR, Grande A, and Low WC, Amelioration of ischemic brain injury with non-hematopoietic umbilical cord blood stem cells (nh-UCBSCs): Mechanisms of action, Cell Transplantation 23(6):789, 2014
  • Fernando, N, Hewitt H, and Low WC, Optimzation of an immunohistochemical fluorescent antibody staining protocol for use on chimeric tissues, Proceedings of the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, University of Minnesota, page 12, 2014.
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