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Timothy McKinsey, PhD

Associate Professor


Contact Information:

School of Medicine, Division of Cardiology 
University of Colorado Denver 
Anschutz Medical Campus 
12700 E. 19th Ave 
Aurora, CO 80045-0508 
Tel: (303) 724-5476 ​​​​ ​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Affiliated Programs

Our lab is focused on​ underst​anding the signaling and gene regulatory mechanisms that control heart failure and associated disorders. We are particularly interested in the​ role of epigenetics in regulating the pathological cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis that is associated with heart failure. Nuclear DNA is wound around proteins called histones to form chromatin, and post-translational modification of histones represents one epigenetic mechanism for altering gene expression. Among the enzymes that target histones are histone deacetylases (HDACs), histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone methyltransferases. We use molecular biology, biochemistry and pharmacology to address the roles of these and other epigenetic modifiers in the control of gene expression in the heart, and extend our findings to surgical, transgenic and gene knockout models of heart failure. Our animal model studies involve echocardiographic and catheter-based measurements of heart function​.

We are also interested in the mechanisms whereby signals derived from cell surface receptors are conveyed to histone-modifying enzymes by proteins kinases and phosphatases. The long-term goal of our work is to translate basic discoveries to novel therapies for patients with heart failure, which afflicts millions of adults in the U.S. and is associated with a 5-year mortality rate of nearly 50%. As such, our lab has established core expertise to enable in vitro, cellular and in vivo assessment of experimental small molecule compounds in support of early stage drug discovery.

Our lab emphasizes teamwork and camaraderie, thus creating an exciting environment for students and postdoctoral trainees. 

  • Cardiac Physiology alt=

  • Cardiac Fibrosis alt=

  • Cardiac Hypertrophy alt=

  • Pharmacology and High Throughput Chemical Biology alt=

  • Signaling and Gene Regulation alt=



  •  alt=Timothy McKinsey, Ph.D.

    Associate Professor and 
    Associate Division Head for Translational Research
    School of Medicine 
    Division of Cardiology, 
    Member/Training Faculty:
    - Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology PhD Program 
    - Biomedical Sciences PhD Training Program 
    - Medical Scientist MD/PhD Training
  • Maria Cavasin, Ph.D.

    Senior Research Associate
    School of Medicine
    Division of Cardiology


  • Matthew Stratton, Ph.D.

    School of Medicine
    Divison of Cardiology
    B.S. - Duquesne University
    M.S. - University of Wyoming
    Ph.D. - Colorado State University
  •  alt=Rushita Bagchi, Ph.D.

    School of Medicine
    Division of Cardiology
    B.S., M.S. - University of Baroda (India)
    Ph.D. - University of Manitoba
  • Ying Hsi (Alvin) Lin, Ph.D.

    School of Medicine
    Division of Cardiology
    B.S. - National Taiwan University
    M.S. - National Taiwan University
    Ph.D. - University of Illinois at Chicago


  •  alt=Katherine Schuetze, M.D.

    School of Medicine
    Division of Cardiology
    B.S. - University of Colorado-Boulder
    Medical School - University of Colorado-Denver
    Residency - University of Michigan

Graduate Students

  • Friederike Schreiter, M.S.

    School of Medicine
    Division of Cardiology
    B.S - University of Heidelberg, Germany
    M.S - University of Heidelberg, Germany
  • Philip Tatman, B.S.

    School of Medicine
    Medical Scientist Training Program
    B.S. - University of Washington

Research Staff

Former Lab Members

  •  alt=Weston Blakeslee, Ph.D.

    Current Position:
    Director of Clinical Pharmacology,
    B.S. - University of Colorado-Boulder
    Ph.D. - University of Colorado-AMC
  •  alt=Kim Demos-Davies, B.A.

    Current Position:
    Graduate Student,
    DVM/Ph.D. Program
    University of Minnesota
    B.A. - University of Colorado-Boulder
  •  alt=Bradley Ferguson, Ph.D.

    Current Position:
    Assistant Professor,
    University of Nevada, Reno 
    B.S. - Appalachian State University
    M.S., Ph.D. - University of North Carolina-Greensboro
  •  alt=Sean Wickers

    Undergraduate Student
    University of Denver

Nuclear PTEN functions as an essential regulator of SRF-dependent transcription to control smooth muscle differentiation.​ Horita H, Wysoczynski CL, Walker LA, Moulton KS, Li M, Ostriker A, Tucker R, McKinsey TA, Churchill ME, Nemenoff RA, Weiser-Evans MC. Nat Commun. 2016 Mar 4;7:10830. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10830. PMID: 26940659

Epigenetic regulation of cardiac fibrosis.​ Stratton MS, McKinsey TA. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2016 Mar;92:206-13. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2016.02.011. Epub 2016 Feb 12. Review. PMID: 26876451

High-efficiency reprogramming of fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes requires suppression of pro-fibrotic signalling.Zhao Y, Londono P, Cao Y, Sharpe EJ, Proenza C, O'Rourke R, Jones KL, Jeong MY, Walker LA, Buttrick PM, McKinsey TA, Song K. Nat Commun. 2015 Sep 10;6:8243. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9243. PMID: 26354680

TNAP: a new player in cardiac fibrosis? Focus on "Tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase as a target of sFRP2 in cardiac fibroblasts".Schuetze KB, McKinsey TA. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2015 Aug 1;309(3):C137-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00167.2015. Epub 2015 Jun 24. PMID: 26108666

Emerging roles for histone deacetylases in pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular remodeling (2013 Grover Conference series).Cavasin MA, Stenmark KR, McKinsey TA. Pulm Circ. 2015 Mar;5(1):63-72. doi: 10.1086/679700. Review. PMID: 25992271

Transgenic over-expression of YY1 induces pathologic cardiac hypertrophy in a sex-specific manner.Stauffer BL, Dockstader K, Russell G, Hijmans J, Walker L, Cecil M, Demos-Davies K, Medway A, McKinsey TA, Sucharov CC. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015 Jun 26;462(2):131-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2015.04.106. Epub 2015 Apr 29. PMID: 25935483

Novel Interaction of Class IIb Histone Deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) with Class IIa HDAC9 Controls Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Neuronal Cell Survival and Movement.Salian-Mehta S, Xu M, McKinsey TA, Tobet S, Wierman ME. J Biol Chem. 2015 May 29;290(22):14045-56. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M115.640482. Epub 2015 Apr 14. PMID: 25873389

Promiscuous actions of small molecule inhibitors of the protein kinase D-class IIa HDAC axis in striated muscle. Lemon DD, Harrison BC, Horn TR, Stratton MS, Ferguson BS, Wempe MF, McKinsey TA. FEBS Lett. 2015 Apr 28;589(10):1080-8. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2015.03.017. Epub 2015 Mar 25. PMID: 25816750 

Acetyl-lysine erasers a​nd readers in the control of pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular hypertrophy.​ Stratton MS, McKinsey TA. Biochem Cell Biol. 2015 Apr;93(2):149-57. doi: 10.1139/bcb-2014-0119. Epub 2014 Dec 16. Review. PMID: 25707943 

Non-sirtuin histone deacetylases in the control of cardiac aging. Ferguson BS, McKinsey TA. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2015 Jun;83:14-20. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2015.03.010. Epub 2015 Mar 16. Review. PMID: 25791169 

AKT Network of Genes and Impaired Myocardial Contractility During Murine Acute Chagasic Myocarditis. Henao-Martínez AF, Agler AH, Watson AM, Hennessy C, Davidson E, Demos-Davies K, McKinsey TA, Wilson M, Schwartz DA, Yang IV. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2015 Mar;92(3):523-9. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.14-0433. Epub 2015 Jan 12. PMID: 25582694 

Tubulin hyperacetylation is adaptive in cardiac proteotoxicity by promoting autophagy. McLendon PM, Ferguson BS, Osinska H, Bhuiyan MS, James J, McKinsey TA, Robbins J. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Dec 2;111(48):E5178-86. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1415589111. Epub 2014 Nov 17. PMID: 25404307

Inflammatory cytokines epigenetically regulate rheumatoid arthritis fibroblast-like synoviocyte activation by suppressing HDAC5 expression. Angiolilli C, Grabiec AM, Ferguson BS, Ospelt C, Malvar Fernandez B, van Es IE, van Baarsen LG, Gay S, McKinsey TA, Tak PP, Baeten DL, Reedquist KA. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014 Dec 1. pii: annrheumdis-2014-205635. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-205635. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 25452308 

Class I HDAC inhibition stimulates cardiac protein SUMOylation through a post-translational mechanism. Blakeslee WW, Wysoczynski CL, Fritz KS, Nyborg JK, Churchill ME, McKinsey TA. Cell Signal. 2014 Dec;26(12):2912-20. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2014.09.005. Epub 2014 Sep 16. PMID: 25220405 

Reversal of severe angioproliferative pulmonary arterial hypertension and right ventricular hypertrophy by combined phosphodiesterase-5 and endothelin receptor inhibition. Cavasin MA, Demos-Davies KM, Schuetze KB, Blakeslee WW, Stratton MS, Tuder RM, McKinsey TA. J Transl Med. 2014 Nov 26;12:314. doi: 10.1186/s12967-014-0314-y. PMID: 25425003 

BET-ting on chromatin-based therapeutics for heart failure. Haldar SM, McKinsey TA. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2014 Sep;74:98-102. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2014.05.002. Epub 2014 May 14. Review. PMID: 24838003 

HDAC6 contributes to pathological responses of heart and skeletal muscle to chronic angiotensin-II signaling. Demos-Davies KM, Ferguson BS, Cavasin MA, Mahaffey JH, Williams SM, Spiltoir JI, Schuetze KB, Horn TR, Chen B, Ferrara C, Scellini B, Piroddi N, Tesi C, Poggesi C, Jeong MY, McKinsey TA. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 Jul 15;307(2):H252-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00149.2014. Epub 2014 May 23. PMID: 24858848 

Endoplasmic reticulum stress effector CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP) regulates chronic kidney disease-induced vascular calcification. Miyazaki-Anzai S, Masuda M, Demos-Davies KM, Keenan AL, Saunders SJ, Masuda R, Jablonski K, Cavasin MA, Kendrick J, Chonchol M, McKinsey TA, Levi M, Miyazaki M. J Am Heart Assoc. 2014 Jun 24;3(3):e000949. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.114.000949. PMID: 24963104 

Targeting cardiac fibroblasts to treat fibrosis of the heart: focus on HDACs. Schuetze KB, McKinsey TA, Long CS. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2014 May;70:100-7. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2014.02.015. Epub 2014 Mar 11. Review. PMID: 24631770 

Class I HDACs regulate angiotensin II-dependent cardiac fibrosis via fibroblasts and circulating fibrocytes. Williams SM, Golden-Mason L, Ferguson BS, Schuetze KB, Cavasin MA, Demos-Davies K, Yeager ME, Stenmark KR, McKinsey TA. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2014 Feb;67:112-25. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2013.12.013. Epub 2013 Dec 26. PMID: 24374140 

BET acetyl-lysine binding proteins control pathological cardiac hypertrophy. Spiltoir JI, Stratton MS, Cavasin MA, Demos-Davies K, Reid BG, Qi J, Bradner JE, McKinsey TA. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2013 Oct;63:175-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2013.07.017. Epub 2013 Aug 9. PMID: 23939492 

Signal-dependent repression of DUSP5 by class I HDACs controls nuclear ERK activity and cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. Ferguson BS, Harrison BC, Jeong MY, Reid BG, Wempe MF, Wagner FF, Holson EB, McKinsey TA. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jun 11;110(24):9806-11. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1301509110. Epub 2013 May 29. PMID: 23720316 ​​​​
The UC Pre-Clinical Cardiovascular Core offers a variety of pre-clinical models in rats and mice, from development to analysis. The Core's main therapeutic areas are cardiovascular, renal, and pulmonary.​​