UROP Mentor: Andre Monteiro Da Rocha, PhD

UROP Research Team: 

  • Evan Monge
  • Michaela Yudelman

What is your research project?

Modeling cardiac aging with stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes carrying a mutation for advanced aging

What are the goals of your research project?

Our goals are use human pluripotent stem cell-derived heart cells (cardiomyocytes) carrying a mutation causative of Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, HGPS - an advanced aging syndrome that reduces life span to 14.5 years - to understand the impact of advanced aging on the function of human heart cells and how aging affects resilience of human heart cells to ischemia. An additional goal is to investigate how the mutation alters DNA stability and epigenetics of the cardiovascular system.

Why is this research important?

Our research is important because it will provide insight into the function of an aging heart and how aging-associated diseased, such as ischemic heart disease affect the function of the heart. Empowered by this information we will be able to identify therapeutic targets to mitigate the decline of physiological reserves associated to aging and contribute to a healthier aging. Furthermore, our research will help to understand how to preserve cardiac function in HGPS, an orphan disease.

What drives you to conduct this research?

The human population is aging, and in 8 years approximately 20% of the American population will be older than 65 years of age and nearly half of these Americans will be older than 75 years. Aging is one of the strongest risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and understanding the physiological changes that happen during aging is of utmost importance to develop strategies and therapies to preserve cardiovascular function, and at the bottom line improve quality of life in aging individuals.

What resources would you recommend to learn more about your research topic?