Dr. Kyuwon Cho, a postdoctoral fellow in the Yoon Lab, received the predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowship in 2016 and 2022 respectively from the American Heart Association (AHA).

AHA predoctoral fellowship enhances the training of promising students in pre-doctoral degree training programs and who intend careers as scientists, physician-scientists or other clinician-scientists, or related careers aimed at improving global health and wellbeing. AHA postdoctoral fellowship enhances the training of postdoctoral applicants who are not yet independent. The applicant must be embedded in an appropriate investigative group with the mentorship, support, and relevant scientific guidance of a research mentor.

Research topic: Understanding the generation of cardiovascular cells in the developing heart

Heart failure is caused by dysfunction or deficiency of heart muscle cells, called cardiomyocytes (CMs). Injured adult hearts do not recover appropriately, as CMs have limited proliferation capacity after birth. Thus, attempts have been made toward understanding molecular regulation of CM proliferation with the goal of modulating these targets to induce proliferation of CMs and ultimately to regenerate hearts. Despite extensive investigations, it is still largely unknown why CMs lose the proliferative capacity early after birth. The goal of my research is to answer this question. We identified a molecular switch that represses proliferation of CMs during the postnatal period. This study will provide important insights into cardiac development in the context of CM proliferation.          

          Clinical studies using stem cells to treat damaged organs showed limited effect. One of the reasons for the disappointing results is poor understanding of roles of stem cells in vivo. Thus, it has become more important to examine how stem cells behave in the body. We identified a new cell type that make the heart muscle and blood vessels in vivo during the development. This cell shares a marker of blood cells and was considered to function as such. With our new finding, we will determine how this cell type contributes to the heart muscle and blood vessels using mouse models. The results of our study will provide valuable insight into the role of this cell for heart development and treatment of damaged organs.

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