Professor Robert M. Graham AO, FAA, MD, Executive Director, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
It has long been known that in adult mammals, the heart is one of the least regenerative organs in the body. This is due to exit from the cell cycle and terminal differentiation of cardiomyocytes in the perinatal period. As a result, repair after massive tissue injury, as occurs with myocardial infarction, is limited to replacement of the myocardium by dense collagenous scar tissue. This impairs contractile function, resulting in adverse re-modelling and, in severe cases, ventricular dilation, heart failure, and death. This terminal state is not observed, however, in certain non-mammalian species, such as urodeles (newts) and teleost fish (Zebrafish), which show a high basal level of cardiomyocyte division and sustained cardiomyocyte regeneration, even in adult life, in response to injury. Indeed, complete repair of the myocardium resulting from a stem cell-independent mechanism, involving cell cycle reentry and proliferation of cardiomyocytes, has been demonstrated in Zebrafish after apical resection of at least 20% of the left ventricle, or after cryoinjury. These interspecies differences and their implications for therapeutic interventions in humans, will be considered in this presentation.
Robert M. Graham is the Des Renford Professor of Medicine, University of New South Wales, and inaugural Executive Director, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and foreign member, Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, his research for many years has focussed on molecular cardiology, with emphasis on circulatory control mechanisms, hypertension, receptor signalling and cardiac hypertrophy. Recently, he has also been actively involved in studies of cardiac regeneration and the application of stem cells for the treatment of heart diseases. He is the author of over 200 peer-reviewed papers. Currently, he is a member of the Research Committee, National Health and Medical Research Council; the Appointments and Promotions Committees of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and Garvan Institute of Medcial Research; the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland and the Centre for Vascular Research, UNSW; Mesoblast Ltd., Melbourne, and Zensun Ltd., Shanghai; and Chairman, Scientific Advisory Boards of The Bosch Institute, University of Sydney and the Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellowships Committee (Australia), and Board Member, EngeneIC Ltd, Sydney and the Lowy Medical Research Institute. He has serves or has served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Circulation Research, Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology and Molecular Pharmacology.