Stefan Jovinge, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Center for Epigenetics
Head, Laboratory of Cardiovascular Research
The DeVos Cardiovascular Research Program
Van Andel Research Institute
(a collaboration with Spectrum Health Hospitals)

Medical Director of Research
Frederick Meijer Heart and Vascular Institute
The DeVos Cardiovascular Research Program
Spectrum Health Hospitals
(a collaboration with Van Andel Research Institute)

Lab of Cardiovascular Research

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General Overview

Heart and vascular diseases aren’t only the main cause of death in the Western world but also cause significant impairment and loss of quality of life. The Jovinge Laboratory’s main objective is to generate new strategies to regenerate heart muscle: important to all types of Heart Failure, ischemic as well as non-ischemic. To understand cardiac regeneration, normal heart development is used as a model in alignment with collaborative efforts on zebra fish, which completely regenerate heart muscle following injury.

One line of research is the generation of cardiomyocytes from pluripotent cell sources. These efforts are not limited to embryonic stem cell sources but use reprogrammed cells as well. Pluripotent cell sources not only provide all different subtypes of cardiomyocyte but have tumorigenic potential as well. So far, the only field that has taken stem cell therapy to clinical routine is the field of Hematology. This has been achieved by characterization of the unique set of surface markers on each cell subtype. As an inspiration, we have in a similar way outlined surface markers for different cardiomyocyte subtypes as well as their level of differentiation. We are continuing this work for all different cardiomyocyte subtypes.

In collaboration with our partners, we have established that the human heart retains a post-natal capacity to generate cardiomyocytes. This represents another line of research where we are not only looking for the source of this generation but also ways to regulate it.

Progress in each of these projects relies on our unique competence in advanced sorting of whole cardiomyocytes and their nuclei. Single cell analysis on a gene/protein level and advanced cell imaging are the other corner-stone techniques employed by the group.

Patient tissue and tissue-based cell reprogramming are used to understand the importance/significance of findings generated in animal models.

The most significant findings, which have also been confirmed for human tissue/cells, will be used in clinical safety studies.

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