Congenital heart defects are among the most common birth defects. Thus, understanding the underlying molecular nature of these defects is a major priority in cardiac research. Our lab investigates the selection of progenitor cells, a developmental process that establishes the heart’s size.
The ultimate fate of organ progenitors depends upon a balance of both inductive and restrictive signals. Because the same signals affecting the formation of cardiac progenitors in embryos are used by cardiac stem cells, our studies will have implications for understanding stem cell differentiation and cardiac regeneration.
Ultimately, we think that our elucidation of the mechanisms restricting cardiac progenitors will lead to a greater understanding of congenital heart defects, and will also have the potential to positively affect our ability to develop novel therapies aimed at healing injured hearts in children and adults.