May 18, 2009

CONTACT: Karen Kreeger
(215) 349-5658

Penn Researchers Receive $2 Million Grant to Study Cardiac Muscle Cell Development

PHILADELPHIA – Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine will receive $2 million over the next four years from the American Heart Association and the Jon Holden DeHaan Foundation to study how heart muscle cell regeneration can help improve outcomes for heart attack and heart failure patients.

In particular, researchers aim to determine how these cells develop and to better understand their inner molecular workings. Ideally, findings from this research will lead to new ways to treat heart attacks, congenital heart disease, and heart failure.

The research will focus on developing methods to identify stem cells from the heart or other organs, such as bone marrow, to give back to patients in a way that will sustain long-lasting recovery of cardiac function. The goal is to build a foundation for using adult stem cells for regenerating and repairing heart muscle, as well as for developing new therapies and drugs in the fight against heart disease.

This award establishes an American Heart Association-Jon Holden DeHaan Foundation Cardiac Myogenesis Research Center at Penn, led by Jonathan Epstein, MD, Chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. Grants for three new centers, including Penn’s, totaled $6 million.

The award was effective in April 2009 and will be funded through March 2012.


PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to the National Institutes of Health, received over $366 million in NIH grants (excluding contracts) in the 2008 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top ten “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, named one of the nation’s “100 Top Hospitals” for cardiovascular care by Thomson Reuters. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.

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