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Heart malformation is the most frequent form of human birth defects, and cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide. The limited regenerative capacity of the heart is a major factor in the morbidity and mortality rates. Cardiovascular progenitor cells hold tremendous therapeutic potential due to their unique ability to expand and differentiate into various heart cell types.
Our laboratory focuses on understanding the biology and regenerative potential of multi-potent cardiac progenitor cells by deciphering the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control their induction, maintenance and differentiation. We are also investigating how cardiac muscles undergo maturation. We developed several novel approaches to deconstruct the mechanisms, including the use of animal models and pluripotent stem cell systems. We expect this knowledge will help us better understand heart disease and will be instrumental for stem-cell-based disease modeling and interventions for of heart repair.