Regenerative Strategies Team

Image showing members of the cell biology group, part of the regenerative strategies team

Cell biology group, part of the Regenerative Strategies team (from left to right): Alyson J. Smith, Ph.D.; Timothy J. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.; Almudena J. Martinez-Fernandez, Ph.D.; and Sybil C. Hrstka, Ph.D.

  • Leadership. Timothy J. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), leads the cell biology group within the Regenerative Strategies team.

    Dr. Nelson specializes in regenerative and translational transplant medicine and has an interest in using patient-specific induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells as model systems for studying disease. In 2010, he received the New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health for his work with iPS cells and dysfunctional regeneration in cardiomyopathy.

  • Dedicated staff. A team of three dedicated postdoctoral researchers supports Dr. Nelson. Almudena J. Martinez-Fernandez, Ph.D., studies developmental biology and embryology of heart development.

    Sybil C. Hrstka, Ph.D., specializes in bioengineering and stem cell differentiation, and Alyson J. Smith, Ph.D., focuses on genomic stabilization of stem cells, based on her postdoctoral work in cancer biology and signal transduction.

  • Infrastructure utilized. The group conducts their research in one of the program's cell culture rooms (described in the preclinical modeling group section below).

Preclinical modeling group

Image showing members of the preclinical modeling group, part of the regenerative strategies team

Preclinical modeling group, part of the Regenerative Strategies team (from left to right): Saji Oommen, Ph.D.; Lois A. Rowe; Satsuki Yamada, M.D., Ph.D.; Jon J. Nesbitt; Timothy J. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.; and Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Leadership. Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., who leads the preclinical modeling group within the Regenerative Strategies team, is director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine, director of the Marriott Heart Disease Research Program and chair of the Regenerative Medicine Task Force.

    Dr. Terzic's laboratory has pioneered discovery, translation and application of stem cell platforms to help people with heart failure. This has led to an international clinical trial with adult stem cells and proof-of-principle studies demonstrating the therapeutic effectiveness of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) in heart repair.

  • Dedicated staff. Supporting Dr. Terzic's work is a team of people who specialize in cardiac physiology and preclinical studies for cell-based therapies. Satsuki Yamada, M.D., Ph.D., is a postdoctoral cardiologist with expertise in echocardiography and electrophysiology. Saji Oommen, Ph.D., is a research associate with surgical and invasive monitoring expertise.

    Jon J. Nesbitt, the team's senior research technologist, has experience in preclinical surgical modeling and specializes in microsurgery model systems. Lois A. Rowe, a research technologist, comes to the team with an extensive histology and laboratory background.

  • Infrastructure utilized. The group works in three state-of-the-art research facilities: a microsurgical suite, a metabolic laboratory and a tissue culture room (one of four air-controlled cell culture labs dedicated to HLHS cellular research).

    The microsurgery unit supports microinjections for cell therapy and phased surgical interventions. Equipment in this suite is customized to support cell therapy research and includes high-powered microscopes with high-resolution video capability, as well as a next-generation comparative micro-echocardiography unit.

    The metabolic laboratory provides equipment — including invasive monitors of oxygen and gas consumption, treadmills, and a high-powered microscope for surgical interventions — necessary to conduct controlled studies. Finally, the tissue culture room includes a research hood, centrifuge, freezers, heaters and microscopes that support the process of altering tissue to create different types of cells, both preclinical and human.

Clinical trials and pilot studies group

  • Leadership. Harold M. Burkhart, M.D., a world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon who specializes in pediatric and congenital heart reconstruction, including the Norwood and Fontan procedures, leads the clinical trials and pilot studies group within the Regenerative Strategies team.
  • Dedicated staff and collaborators. Working with Dr. Burkhart are Dr. Nelson and Myra J. Wick, M.D., Ph.D., as well as Dennis A. Gastineau, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hematologist with expertise in transfusion medicine and Allan B. Dietz, Ph.D., a Mayo scientist who concentrates on the biology of human myeloid dendritic cell differentiation and function.

    Also involved in this group are laboratory technicians Doug J. Padley and Darcie J. Radel, who have expertise in stem cell processing, and Karen P. Krucker, R.N., who manages research subject participation, education and communications.

  • Infrastructure utilized. The clinical trials and pilot studies group utilizes the Human Cellular Therapy Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, a specialized facility that provides cellular products for the treatment of human disease.

    In addition to serving the Program for HLHS, the facility serves the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, Cancer Center, Division of Transfusion Medicine, the Islet Cell Transplantation Program and a variety of researchers at Mayo Clinic.