Charles Hong, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine

2220 Pierce Ave., PRB 383, Nashville, TN, 37232
(615) 936-7032 (office)

Research Description

Our research can be divided into 2 broad areas. The first area involves chemical biology of vertebrate development, which entails discovery of small molecules that selectively modulate cell signaling pathways involved in embryogenesis. Since developmental pathways represent important untapped therapeutic targets, we have an active medicinal chemistry program to develop our novel small molecules as lead compounds for future therapies. We have thus far discovered potent and highly selective chemical modifiers of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), Wnt, Hedgehog, and lipid signaling pathways, among others. Several of our compounds are first-in-class molecules with substantial therapeutic potential in rare and common diseases, including cancers, atherosclerosis, pulmonary hypertension and heart failure. Our chemical biology exploration has led to new opportunities for innovative therapeutic programs.

In the second, we are examining the utility of hiPSC to study human congenital heart diseases and inherited cardiomyopathies. Finally, we are developing human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes as a platform for drug testing, including validation of novel cardiac inotropes.

2006 - Discovered the role of PI3K and MAP kinase crosstalk in artery specification.
2008 - Discovered dorsomorphin, the first pharmacological inhibitor of the BMP pathway.
2010 - First large scale in vivo structure activity relationship (SAR) study outside the anti-microbial field.
2008, 2010 - First reported use of pharmacological inhibitors of BMP and Wnt pathways to induce cardiomyogenesis in pluripotent stem cells.
2011 - Contributed to the discovery of the role of BMP signaling in cholesterol homeostasis.
2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 - Helped reveal therapeutic potential of a BMP inhibitor for anemia, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, atherosclerosis, and variety of cancers (lung, metastatic breast, ovarian and brain cancers).
2015 - Discovered phosphodiesterase-4 as a pharmacological target for hedgehog signaling inhibitor.
2015 - Signed an exclusive research and licensing agreement with La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company covering novel BMP receptor inhibitors.

Clinical Interest

Dr. Hong is a board certified cardiologist, with expertise in inherited heart diseases.

Selected Publications