Satuski Yamada, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Associate Consultant I, Cardiovascular Medicine and Internal Medicine — Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science
  • Area of research: Regenerative biotherapy for heart failure

What sparked your interest in individualized medicine?

Scientists have recognized variances in responsiveness to treatment among individuals — linked to genetic conditions, age, gender and the like — among organs, and more recently within specific organs. I have a particular interest in the intraorgan heterogeneity of diseased hearts that impacts disease progression and treatment plans.

What is your focus as a Gerstner Family Career Development Award recipient?

I'm working to develop a targeted regenerative biotherapy to restore cardiac function in individuals who have suffered a myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack.

A heart attack causes varying degrees of tissue damage across different zones within the heart. The resulting noncoordinated wall motion leads to cardiac pumping failure, which is resistant to traditional drug treatments. My research will bring together principles of individualized medicine and regenerative medicine to improve the management of heart failure after a heart attack.

Specifically, I'm investigating how to use a patient's own stem cells as a new therapy to help reestablish and maintain a synchronized pumping motion, even though the patient's heart has been damaged by his or her heart attack. I'm also using high-resolution imaging and artificial intelligence to tailor personalized treatment plans for each individual patient.

How will your research improve patient care?

Heart failure is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, and this trend will continue to increase as the population ages. Current pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies are palliative in nature and don't address the failing myocardial substrate. In fact, damage to the heart after a heart attack has traditionally been considered nonreversible.

Successful completion of this project could potentially contribute to advancing disease management from reactive to proactive.

How has the Gerstner Family Career Development Award helped advance your research?

This support from the Gerstner family will allow my team to provide a translational foundation to achieve the most effective cardiac reparative therapy. The funding will be used to advance individualized approaches, including:

  • Noninvasive and real-time substrate identification using a high-resolution ultrasound
  • Histopathological and molecular readouts to evaluate the reach of regenerative intervention
  • Artificial intelligence-enhanced decision-making

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to explore research?

After my clinical training in Japan, I joined Mayo Clinic as a postdoctoral fellow in cardiovascular research. I was involved in preclinical studies that advanced to clinical trials, and I learned the value of bench-to-bedside translational research. At the same time, results tell us there is always space for improvement. I decided to pursue a career in medical science to find better solutions one by one.

The quote from Dr. Charles H. Mayo, " ... if we excel in anything, it is in our capacity for translating idealism into action," which is posted on the wall of the Mayo facility I work in, has been a great inspiration and encouragement.