Professor Jason Kovacic
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
About the talk: As an under-appreciated phenomenon, the endothelium is capable of remarkable cellular plasticity. One of the major biologic programs underpinning this endothelial plasticity is endothelial to mesenchymal transition (EndMT) – a process whereby an endothelial cell undergoes a series of molecular events that lead to a change in phenotype toward a mesenchymal cell (e.g. myofibroblast, smooth muscle cell). Recently, a great deal of effort has gone into dissecting and understanding the molecular basis of endothelial plasticity and EndMT. As a result, we now understand that during development, primitive endothelial cells exhibit plasticity and differentiate to acquire vascular fates. Also, certain endothelial cells undergo EndMT to give rise to mesenchymal cells necessary for cardiac development, and also some endothelial cells give rise to hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. In the adult, mounting evidence indicates that EndMT is involved in adult cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), including atherosclerosis, pulmonary hypertension and valvular disease. Therefore, the targeting of EndMT may hold great therapeutic promise for treating CVD.
About the speaker: Jason Kovacic graduated from The University of Melbourne Medical School in 1994, and then undertookresidency and cardiology specialty training at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. Jason then completed a PhD at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, focusing on the application of cell therapy to treatpatients with refractory ischemic heart disease. In 2007 Dr. Kovacic relocated to the USA, to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.At the NIH, Jason undertook a 2 year postdoctoral fellowship with the then Director of the NHLBI, Dr. Elizabeth Nabel. In 2009 Jason moved to Mount Sinai in New York. As a physician-scientist and investigator at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Jason established a cardiovascular research laboratory with a strong interest in the cellular, molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease. He also established a large clinical practice as an interventional and clinicalcardiologist. Major career scientific achievements include successful investigator-initiated clinical studies of cardiovascular progenitor cell therapy, molecular characterization of a novel vascular progenitor cellpopulation, unravelling the pathobiology of fibromuscular dysplasia and spontaneous coronary artery dissection, numerous basic and translational studies on the biology and manifestations of atherosclerosis, and pioneering studies regarding the role of endothelial to mesenchymal transition (EndMT) in adult vascular biology and disease.
Read more about Professor Jason Kovacic here.
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