Our research focuses on the molecular and genetic mechanisms involved in heart disease. Our ultimate goal is to dissect the pathways involved in genetic and acquired forms of heart failure and transform this information to devise the next generation of pharmacological therapies for heart disease in humans.
We have discovered numerous cardiac and muscle-specific genes of unknown function, most of them do not code for proteins but have a regulatory function (microRNAs, long non-coding RNAs, circular RNAs). We are use gain- and loss-of-function studies in mice and cultured (human) cardiomyocytes to elucidate the functions of these novel genes.
Our Department is interested in exploring the mechanisms how human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) differentiate into distinct cardiac cell lineages and manipulate these decision-making processes with small molecules, non-coding RNAs, and regulatory transcription factors. From these studies, we extrapolate information to stimulate proliferation of adult heart muscle cells to accomplish endogenous regeneration in ischemic heart disease.
One interest in our Department is how cardiomyocytes communicate with endothelial and inflammatory cells via extracellular vesicles to alter their angiogenic and inflammatory properties, respectively. In this way, we expect to identify new gene targets to prevent or cure heart disease.
We seek to delineate complete genetic pathways for the formation and function of each muscle-cell type, perform traditional and next generation sequencing genetic analyses and in variant interpretation and we devise pharmacologic and genetic therapies for inherited cardiac diseases in humans.