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Gladstone Scientist Wins $1.7 Million Grant for Cardiovascular Research

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—May 9, 2011—The Gladstone Institute's Deepak Srivastava, MD, has received a $1.7 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for further investigation into treatments for heart disease.

Dr. Srivastava, who leads all of Gladstone's cardiovascular research and the Gladstone Stem Cell Program, has previously shown that connective-tissue cells in the heart, known as fibroblasts, can be directly reprogrammed into beating cardiac-muscle cells. In this CIRM-sponsored research, he will explore the mechanism by which fibroblasts can be reprogrammed into healthy muscle cells to replace those muscle cells that heart disease has damaged.

Dr. Srivastava's work was inspired by a 2006 breakthrough from another Gladstone scientist, Shinya Yamanaka MD, PhD. In 2006, the Gladstone Senior Investigator discovered a way to reprogram adult skin cells into cells that act like embryonic stem cells. The discovery has since altered the fields of cell biology and stem-cell research, offering new hope for the future of both personalized and regenerative medicine.

In earlier work, Dr. Srivastava and his team were able to reprogram fibroblast cells into muscle cells in mice hearts by adding just three genes. The cells were directly converted to new muscle without ever becoming stem cells. In the current study, the lab will investigate the mechanism of the reprogramming process and how it progresses over time.

"Five million Americans suffer from heart failure," said Dr. Srivastava. "Our goal is to develop a strategy for producing new heart muscle cells to regenerate damaged tissue in adults and in infants with congenital heart malformations."

Dr. Srivastava is the director and a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease. At the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Dr. Srivastava is also the Wilma and Adeline Pirag Distinguished Professor in Pediatric Developmental Cardiology, and a professor in the departments of Pediatrics, and Biochemistry & Biophysics.

Before joining Gladstone, Dr. Srivastava was a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center in Dallas. He has received numerous honors and awards, including endowed chairs at both UTSW and UCSF, as well as election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Society for Pediatric Research, and most recently to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

About the Gladstone Institutes
Gladstone is an independent and nonprofit biomedical-research organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discovery and biomedical innovation to prevent illness and cure patients suffering from cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, or viral infections. Gladstone is affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco.

Also based in San Francisco, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine funds stem cell research programs throughout California. The mission for CIRM, established in 2004 after Californians passed the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, is to support and advance stem-cell research and regenerative medicine under the highest ethical and medical standards for the discovery and development of cures, therapies, diagnostics and research technologies to relieve human suffering from chronic disease and injury.

About the Gladstone Institutes

To ensure our work does the greatest good, the Gladstone Institutes focuses on conditions with profound medical, economic, and social impact—unsolved diseases of the brain, the heart, and the immune system. Affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco, Gladstone is an independent, nonprofit life science research organization that uses visionary science and technology to overcome disease.

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Megan McDevitt
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