Robert McEwen Chair in Cardiac Regenerative MedicinePrincipal, McEwen Stem Cell InstituteStaff Pathologist, UHN Laboratory Medicine ProgramAssociate Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto
Dr. Michael Laflamme joined the McEwen Stem Cell Institute (formerly the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine) in 2015, where he is currently a Principal Investigator and holds the Robert McEwen Chair in Cardiac Regenerative Medicine. His research program is aimed at developing novel cell therapies to regenerate injured hearts.
After obtaining an undergraduate degree in Physics at Georgetown University, Dr. Laflamme completed the Medical Scientist (MD/PhD) Training Program at Emory University, where he studied the regulation of calcium homeostasis by beta-adrenergic signaling in adult ventricular cardiomyocytes. After residency in Anatomic Pathology and subspecialty training in cardiovascular pathology at the University of Washington Medical Center, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Charles Murry investigating the role of exogenous and endogenous stem cells in myocardial repair. Following his postdoctoral studies, he obtained a faculty position at the University of Washington in Seattle.
His independent research career has been largely focused on the development of cell therapies based on human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), and his laboratory has made a number of important contributions in this area including:
His team has ongoing efforts to improve the electrical function of hPSC-CM grafts and to test their efficacy in large-animal models of post-MI heart failure.
Dr. Laflamme has been the recipient of several honours, including the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology Young Investigator Award, the Perkins Coie Award for Discovery, the ASGCT Outstanding New Investigator Award and the UHN Co-Inventor of the Year. He is also a board-certified physician in Anatomic Pathology and practices diagnostic cardiovascular pathology.
A complete list of
Dr. Laflamme's publications can be found on UHN Research.
Development of a Contractile Cardiac Fiber From Pluripotent Stem Cell Derived Cardiomyocytes.Front Cardiovasc Med. 2018;5:52Hansen KJ, Laflamme MA, Gaudette GR
Cardiac repair with pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes: Proof of concept but new challenges.J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2017 Sep;154(3):945-948Masoudpour H, Laflamme MA
Micro- and nano-patterned conductive graphene-PEG hybrid scaffolds for cardiac tissue engineering.Chem Commun (Camb). 2017 Jun 29;53(53):7412-7415Smith AST, Yoo H, Yi H, Ahn EH, Lee JH, Shao G, Nagornyak E, Laflamme MA, Murry CE, Kim DH
Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael Laflamme
Tamilla Valdman SadikovMatthew Siemon
Naaz AndhariaRocco RomagnuoloWahiba Dhahri
Christoph Haller, PhD StudentJoseph Jargstorf, Masters StudentAndrew Laskary, Masters StudentAmine Mazine, PhD Student (co-advised)
Q: Tell us a little bit about the research you've dedicated your career to advancing.
A: When someone has a heart attack, the functioning cardiac muscle dies and is replaced with scar tissue which doesn't contract. We're trying to restore function to injured hearts by replacing that scar tissue with healthy cardiomyocytes, or heart muscle cells from stem cells. Put simply, we're trying to use new cells to restore muscle function and reverse heart failure. So far, we've successfully demonstrated that this kind of transplant and heart healing can work in the lab. And we're getting closer to viable cell therapy for humans with each passing day.
Q: What's the ultimate goal that you're working toward and how can donors help?
A: We've made a lot of progress toward our end goal, which is to help restore function and health in patients experiencing heart failure after a heart attack. If our team can overcome the final hurdles in the lab, a first human trial using our new technologies could take place in the foreseeable future. Along with our team's focus and dedication, it's donor support that makes these advancements possible. The hothouse of talent that has clustered so many scientists, entrepreneurs, support workers and a lot of generous philanthropists in the regenerative medicine ecosystem here means UHN is the place to get things done faster and better.
Q: UHN recently partnered with BlueRock Therapeutics, a biotechnology company. How will that help advance research into how stem cells can help patients suffering from heart disease and Parkinson's disease?
A: We've had a lot of research breakthroughs in the past several years, and with BlueRock we can now move them from the laboratory to the clinic to help patients. BlueRock builds upon Toronto's excellence in stem-cell research.