The Kotlikoff laboratory focuses on the molecular processes underlying cardiac and smooth muscle cell development and function. Current studies include the role of progenitor cells in heart development and repair, the ability of precursor or stem cells to reconstitute functional heart tissue, and the basis of smooth muscle rhythmicity. A major focus of the lab is to understand the processes of cardiac repair and to develop effective therapies to decrease the risk of fatal arrhythmias and improve heart function following ischemic cardiac damage. A second focus of the lab is the development of methods to study cellular function in mammals in vivo. Fluorescent proteins are modified to create molecular scale sensors that can be genetically targeted to specific cell lineages to reveal signaling events that underlie complex function in organs like the heart, the vascular system, and the brain.
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