Michael A. Laflamme MD, PhD
University of Washington
My laboratory is broadly interested in cardiac applications for human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and, in particular, in the electrophysiologic properties and specialization of cardiomyocytes from this source. Having previously shown that hESC-derived cardiomyocytes can form implants of human myocardium in uninjured and experimentally infarcted rodent hearts, we are now focusing on determining whether these grafts show appropriate electrical integration with the host and what electrophysiological consequences they will have on the host. We are also characterizing the baseline electrophysiologic properties of individual hESC-derived cardiomyocytes and plan to investigate how these properties might change with development either in vitro or in vivo.
We have the longer-term goal of controlling the differentiation of hESCs, not just into cardiomyocytes, but into each of the specialized cardiac subtypes (i.e. pacemaker, ventricular, and atrial cells), using guided differentiation or genetic selection with candidate promoters.