SURF

Nevan Powers

Investigating Molecular Mechanisms Behind the Loss of Mammalian Heart Regeneration

Any significant damage to our heart tissue results in permanent scarring and irreversible loss of function, but animals like newts and zebrafish can naturally replace the lost tissue and recover to a healthy state. Looking at trends between species, it appears that mammals may have evolved to lose regenerative potential as they acquired endothermy. Interestingly, we can see a similar trend in a single mouse. In its neonatal stage, a mouse can regenerate functional heart tissue, but loses this ability within a few days as its body temperature increases. This suggests that mammals may have an innate regenerative potential that is lost as the metabolic rate increases to meet the demands of endothermy. To explain the link between metabolism and regeneration, I will be identifying and analyzing potential molecular mechanisms that mediate crosstalk between the heart and thermogenic brown adipose tissue, alongside other metabolic organs. In parallel with this molecular approach, I will develop a new mathematical model to relate the metabolic output of a cardiovascular system to the regenerative capacity of its heart.

Message to Sponsor

I'd like to express my thanks to the Rose Hills Foundation for funding my research project this summer. With their support, I was able to take a deep dive into my subject and see what it is really like to dedicate myself full-time to a research project. This endeavor has helped me hone my skills of critical thinking and communicating science, while also greatly expanding my knowledge of physiology and the process of research. Additionally, this new experience has helped me gain confidence in and solidify my plans to move on to higher education, and possibly even pursue a PhD. Once again, thank you so much to the Rose Hills Foundation for supporting me this summer and giving me such a great opportunity to both improve myself and find direction in my future.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Experience
  • Mentor: Guo Huang