Our laboratory studies the mechanisms of cardiac repair and regeneration after injury focusing on the role of BMP and Wnt signaling in the function of the adult heart. Previously, we discovered that in vitro expanded endothelial progenitor cells form blood vessels after transplantation in the embryo and are recruited to sites of tumor angiogenesis in adult mice. Based on these findings, we used the cells as “Trojan horses” to deliver toxic agents directly to tumors, killing malignant cells. We also found that progenitor cell transplantation after acute or chronic ischemia enhances vascularization and improves tissue recovery.
Currently, we investigate the genomics and biology of pluripotent stem cells and the effects of Wnt signaling on cardiovascular cell differentiation, and collaborate with Bioengineers to develop cardio-compatible biopolymer scaffolds for stem cell therapy. In addition, we study the function of Wnt and BMP signaling in cardiac tissue repair after experimental myocardial infarction. Our laboratory was the first to discover the crucial role of the BMP antagonist Gremlin2 in cardiac development, pluripotent stem cell differentiation and atrial fibrillation. Our future goal is to translate our findings to new therapies for heart disease patients.
Our laboratory is a member of the Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research Network (CCTRN) and the Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium (PCBC), which have been established by NHLBI in 2007 and 2009, respectively.