The Cardiothoracic Translational Research Laboratory is focused on turning a deeper understanding of the complex biology of failing heart cells into a new generation of cellular and molecular therapies that may actually reverse the ravages of heart failure. This lethal condition affects more than 5 million Americans and is already the greatest single economic burden in American health care, yet no existing therapies can either halt or reverse the disease process.

Michael J. Mann, M.D. is the Lab Director. His group is analyzing the molecular basis of the failing heart's response to non-embyonic stem cell transplantation, and these results will provide a framework for the first rational design of optimized strategies for human cardiac stem cell therapy. His group also works closely with the SFVAMC Cardiac Biomechanics Laboratory, headed by Drs. Mark Ratcliffe and Julius Guccione, which has developed among the world's most advanced computerized mathematical programs to model and predict the biophysics of cardiac function.

Together, they are applying these capabilities to better understand cell transplantation as well as the emerging field of surgical reconstruction of damaged hearts. In addition, Dr. Mann collaborates with Dr. Kevin Healy and other bioengineers from the UC Berkeley campus to apply novel artificial materials toward both the delivery of non-embryonic stem cells to intact hearts and the engineering of bioartificial heart tissue.