Allen Khudaverdyan

Role of Brown Fat-secreted Factors in Cardiomyocyte Proliferation and Regeneration

Heart disease continues to be a defining illness of our generation, as the poor regenerative potential of the human heart renders fatal the loss of millions of heart muscle cells that follow heart attacks. Yet, there seems to exist a striking heterogeneity across species in this regenerative potential. Neonatal mice, for example, exhibit a much more robust ability to regenerate these heart cells (also called cardiomyocytes), but lose this ability in adulthood. Why? A recent key evolutionary intuition came in the inverse correlation between organisms’ metabolic rate and cardiac regenerative capacity. Thus, a secretory organ vital to regulating neonatal thermogenesis, brown fat, may be key. Several brown fat-secreted factors have been shown to improve cardiac function. In addition, our preliminary data unveils molecular communications between brown fat and the heart in triggering the loss of neonatal cardiomyocyte proliferative and regenerative capacity. Thus, we are looking to investigate the effects of one brown fat-secreted factor with promising preliminary data, Fibroblast growth factor 9 (Fgf9), on cardiomyocyte proliferation as a promising drug candidate for heart attack treatment.

Message to Sponsor

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to have my first, real in-depth experience with conducting research full-time. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work at the cutting edge of what we understand and make my own contribution to it. I have loved the idea of scientific inquiry since I was a child and I hope this experience will give me an introduction to what it means to be a scientist. This opportunity is decisive to my future in science.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hill Foundation
  • Mentor: Guo Huang