Search our website Find job opportunies at THI and St. Luke's Find a doctor location and contact information
About UsResearchEducationCommunity Outreach & Heart HealthPatient CareSupport Us
News and Publications
James T. Willerson, MD
  Back to previous page

Click here to make a donation.

Heart to Heart Archive

Heart to Heart from Dr. James T. Willerson

July 25, 2012

Dear Friend of the Texas Heart Institute,

One of the critical needs in repairing a damaged human heart is to find a practical and safe means of generating healthy new heart muscle.  

Today, we are proud to report new findings being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that have significantly added to our current body of knowledge regarding this process. (See the full news release on our website for details: Researchers Mark Progress in Reprogramming Skin Cells Into Heart Muscle.)

Working collaboratively with the University of Houston (UH), the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Houston, and Baylor College of Medicine, our Texas Heart Institute team recently discovered a new way to convert human skin cells from an individual into his or her beating heart muscle cells. This finding is extremely important due to the heart's lack of regenerative capability on its own. The team was led by Robert J. Schwartz, PhD, Director of Stem Cell Engineering at the Texas Heart Institute and Director of UH's Center for Molecular Medicine and Experimental Therapeutics. 

It is expected that the findings from this research will provide future opportunities for cell therapies and heart regeneration in humans. The research team's next steps are to test how stable and safe converted skin cells are over time in animal models, and to determine the implications of injecting these cells into human hearts.

It is our hope that these findings, as they mature, will enable physicians to convert a patient's own skin cells into his or her new heart muscle cells to repair damage to hearts from heart attacks, viral injury, genetic abnormalities, etc., and ultimately be a first step in regenerating the whole heart when it is badly injured.

Celebrating 50 Years of ExcellenceWith great respect, 

James T. Willerson signature


  James T. Willerson, MD
  President and Medical Director

Contact Dr. Willerson

Read previous issues of Heart to Heart in the archives.

We are saving hearts and trees. Heart to Heart is sent via e-mail and available to read online at Please assure your uninterrupted receipt of this important and helpful information by providing us with your e-mail address. You can sign up using the form located on this page.

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Subscribe to us on YouTube Find Us on Flicikr Follow Us on Pinterest Add us on Google+ Find us on LinkedIn 

Please contact our Webmaster with questions or comments.
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
© Copyright Texas Heart Institute
All rights reserved.