Johnny Kim is a Senior Staff Scientist and research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, Germany. A major goal of the Kim lab is to elucidate processes that govern the self-renewal and coordinated differentiation of stem cells during development and regeneration. To this end, the Kim lab pioneered the integration of genetics and functional genomics of the primary regenerative muscle compartment and his team has exploited these means to inform possibilities to enable heart regeneration.
The Kim lab aims to reach a systems-level understanding of tissue regeneration and of how defects in these processes can lead to the manifestation of human disease including cancer, or to the progressive loss of regenerative potential during disease and physiological aging. On these grounds, the research theme of the Kim lab is that cell fate decisions made by cells in their past are not irrevocable but can be reverted and reprogrammed. This dynamic concept of a cell’s fate corresponds with the established view that maintenance of a cellular phenotype does not reflect a static state but rather requires continuous regulation. This phenomenon enables to redirect and manipulate cells and enhance regenerative properties of tissues and organs provided that the molecular mechanisms in regulating cellular phenotype are known.
Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD, FAHA, Chair, Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences of the American Heart Association (AHA).
Dr. McNally investigates genetics determinants and mechanisms of myopathies as they affect the heart and muscle. Her work has yielded new insights into the development and presentation of cardiomyopathy and muscular dystrophy. Dr. McNally earned her medical degree and doctorate in microbiology and immunology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She did her internship, residency and cardiovascular fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and genetics fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. Before joining Northwestern University, Dr. McNally, a Chicago native, was on the faculty at the University of Chicago. McNally directs Northwestern’s Center for Genetic Medicine, working towards the goal of transforming how genetic information is used clinically. The Center is capitalizing on advances in sequencing and leveraging the electronic clinical data to improve patient outcomes. Among her nearly 300 publications are studies on developing genetic profiling to identify mutations underlying cardiomyopathy, including a collaborative project associating a single mutation with a range of outcomes, and research demonstrating the utility of whole-genome sequencing to find individual mutations in cardiomyopathy patients, and of a supercomputer to facilitate whole-genome analysis. She also recently compared protein coding variation in the genomes of patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The results obtained in this study support the concept that increased variation in cardiomyopathy genes creates a genetic background that predisposes to DCM and increased disease severity. Most recently, as part of a multidisciplinary collaborative group, she has been monitoring exposure to SARS-CoV2 and response to vaccination using a highly sensitive and specific serological assay, demonstrating high household spread of COVID-19, high exposure rate across the diverse areas in Chicago, and a stronger vaccine response in women compared to men.
Michael Rudnicki is a Senior Scientist and the Director of the Regenerative Medicine Program and the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. He is Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Rudnicki is CEO and Scientific Director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network (SCN). Dr. Rudnicki’s achievements have been recognized by numerous honours including being named a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for two consecutive terms, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London). He has been a founder in several spin-off biotechnology companies including Satellos Bioscience. Dr. Rudnicki is an internationally recognized thought leader in molecular genetics and regenerative medicine whose research has transformed our understanding of muscle development and regeneration and has fueled the development of novel stem cell-based approaches to treat muscular dystrophy. His work is consistently published in top journals including Cell, Nature, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Medicine, and Cell Stem Cell. He holds major research grants from CIHR, NIH, SCN, and several health charities. For the past 16 years, Dr. Rudnicki has led the Stem Cell Network (SCN), a transformative initiative involving over 175 investigators across Canada. As Scientific Director of the SCN, he has forged a national community that transformed stem cell research in Canada and brought research to the point where regenerative medicine is impacting clinical practice.
Edgar Gomes is Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon and group leader at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM), Lisbon, Portugal. He is a biochemist by training and performed his PhD on cell biology in Coimbra, Portugal. Thereafter, he did his post-doc at Columbia University, NY, USA. In 2007, at the Institute of Myology, Paris, France, Edgar set up his own research group and became a Director of Research. Since 2014, he is heading a lab at iMM, where they are interested in how the cell architecture of skeletal muscle cells works, including in central core myopathies. Mechanisms of nuclear movement during cell migration and skeletal muscle formation are being studied and what is the role for nuclear positioning in skeletal muscle formation is a main topic of research. Recently he became a Professor of Histology and Developmental Biology at the Faculty of Medicine, where he works closely with Hospital Santa Maria, the main hospital in Lisbon, at the edge of diagnostics and therapeutics.