Song Lab-Molecular Mechanisms of Cardiac Development & Disease, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
The heart is the first functional organ formed during embryogenesis in human. Ischemic heart disease resulting in myocardial infarction (MI) and heart failure is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. A fundamental process leading to heart failure post-MI is irreversible loss of cardiomyocytes, which are replaced by fibrotic scar tissue that impairs the pump function of the heart. The regenerative capacity of the adult human heart is too limited to compensate for the massive loss of cardiomyocytes post-MI. We have shown that human and mouse fibroblasts can be reprogrammed into induced cardiac like myocytes (iCLMs) by overexpression of cardiomyocyte-specific factors. Conversion of fibroblasts into iCLMs provides a platform to study molecular mechanisms of cardiomyocyte-specific gene activation or cardiomyocyte specification, and should facilitate development of novel therapeutic strategies for heart repair. In addition to our robust internal research programs, we actively collaborate with others in the field with the long term goal of promoting the use of regenerative medicine to improve human health.
Current studies in our lab:
1. Understanding molecular mechanisms of cardiac development and disease.
We are studying mechanisms of cardiac development & diseases using multiple approaches, including patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells).
2. Manipulating cardiac lineage reprogramming for cardiac regeneration.
Through high throughput screening of compound libraries, we have identified a collection of small molecules can enhance the efficiency of cardiac lineage reprogramming. Currently, we are dissecting the molecular mechanisms of actions of these small molecules in vitro and in vivo. Rebuilding functional myocardium in injured heart includes regeneration of right types of cardiomyocytes at certain area, reduction of fibrosis, reformation of durable blood vessels and so on. By using regenerative medicine as a foundation, we are developing therapeutic strategies to ameliorate pumping function of injured heart.
Kunhua Song, Ph.D
Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
12700 E. 19th Ave. RC2-8100
Aurora, CO 80045
Office Phone: 303-724-8132
Lab Phone: 303-724-8223