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Regenerating heart tissue topic of UH lecture Nov. 27

HOUSTON, Nov. 14, 2012 With chronic heart failure affecting 5.4 million people and 690,000 new cases being diagnosed each year, therapies for reversing disease progression are needed. Developing pharmacological approaches for regenerating and improving function in damaged heart tissue will be the focus of a lecture Nov. 27 at the University of Houston (UH).

Mark Mercola, professor and director of the Muscle Development and Regeneration Program at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, will present "Regenerating Damaged Heart Muscle: Using Stem Cells and Systems Biology to Discover Drug Targets." He will be this year's final speaker in a UH lecture series highlighting the impact of science on health and society. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Mercola is known for discovering signaling pathways that control heart formation during embryonic development. These discoveries have provided a mechanistic understanding of how primitive cells in the embryo form heart muscle and are the basis of his current work to regenerate heart muscle cells from embryonic and cardiac stem cells.

He directs a multidisciplinary team of engineers, chemists and stem cell biologists to develop automated, high-throughput techniques to discover small drug-like molecules that direct stem cells to form heart muscle cells that could lead to new classes of drugs to stimulate regeneration of damaged heart muscle. His lab also uses transgenic and surgical models of heart disease to evaluate candidate drug targets and genes involved in stem cell-based creation of new muscle tissue, as well as preservation of heart muscle and function post-injury.

His research is supported by grants from the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

The Friends of NSM Distinguished Lecture Series, sponsored by the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, features leading scientists and physicians addressing breakthroughs in science that will alter the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, as well as impact the delivery of medical care.

Mark Mercola, Ph.D.
Professor and Director, Muscle Development and Regeneration Program
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Friends of NSM Distinguished Lecture Series: Science Impacting Health and Society
Lecture: "Regenerating Damaged Heart Muscle: Using Stem Cells and Systems Biology to Discover Drug Targets"

7 8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 27

University of Houston
Rockwell Pavilion, second floor of the UH M.D. Anderson Library
Off Calhoun Road, Entrance 1


Contact: Lisa Merkl
University of Houston

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