Lehanna Sanders, a graduate student in the Hatzopoulos Hub Site 11 has initiated this PCBC Blog. Other team memebers include Nicole Stone (Srivastava Hub Site 15) and Kaytlyn  Gerbin (Charles Murray's Lab - Morrisey Hub Site 14). To join the team, contact Ling Tang (ltang@epi.umaryland.edu) or Andrea Lefever (alefever@epi.umaryland.edu) for permission to post. For blog charter click here. 

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Blog Entry #1:  A Heart is Born

by Lehanna Sanders, Hatzopoulos Hub Site 11

  • How many people do you know were born with some sort of heart defect, or have had a heart attack?
  • Heart defects are one of the most common types of birth defects.
  • Heart disease remains the most prominent contributor to deaths worldwide.

Knowing how the heart develops and regenerates could help generate therapies for people that suffer from such defects as well as those that have suffered from a heart attack.

Despite the fact that how cells assemble to form the heart has been extensively studied over the last decades, the identity of every cell type that is responsible for building heart muscles has remained elusive. [more]

Blog Entry #2:  Transdifferentiation: Akting Like a More Mature Cardiomyocyte

by Cristina Harmelink, Ph.D., Hatzopoulos Hub Site 11

The World Health Organization lists heart disease as the main cause of death worldwide. In the United States, the American Heart Association estimates that annually almost 1 million people will have a myocardial infarction and roughly 5.7 million people will have heart failure. 1 Both lead to cardiac myocyte death and reduced heart contractility.

  In 2012, PCBC (Schneider Hub Site 12 and Srivastava Hub Site 15) investigators have discovered that a resident population of fibroblasts within the adult mouse heart is amenable to in vivo cell fate manipulation. 2, 3 For direct cardiac reprogramming to achieve its therapeutic potential, rapid and efficient production of a large number of completely reprogrammed cardiac-like myocytes must be accomplished. [more]


Blog Entry #3: What is Good Science: A response to the New Yorker article “The Stress Test”

By Lehanna Sanders, Vanderbilt University, Hatzopoulos Hub 11

  • Do you think that more accountability should be required of journals to ensure validity? 
  • What do you do to prevent being thrown off track by artifacts?


Competitive Nature in Biomedical Science

A February New Yorker article, “The Stress Test”, featured a discussion on the STAP (“stress” or “stimulus” triggered acquisition of pluripotency) phenomenon that made headlines two years ago.  Dr. Charles Vicanti, an anesthesiologist, recognized in the stem cell field for the ‘ear mouse’ and Haruko Obakata, a post-doc in his lab, claimed that treating cells with mildly acidic ATP led to pluripotency.  Yoshiki Sasai, who penned the name STAP, assisted in obtaining a favorable reception at Nature.  Following a grueling investigation, Dr. Obakata was hospitalized for depression; the paper was retracted; and Dr. Sasai committed suicide, all of which are great losses. 

Furthermore, the author of this New Yorker article goes so far as to state that stem cell biology is a “ruthlessly competitive field susceptible to fantasy.” I disagree. What do you think? [more]


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