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ALERT CONTENT PLACEHOLDER
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Michael Laflamme in his lab
Dr. Michael ​​​​​Laflamme, MD, PhD

Robert McEwen Chair in Cardiac Regenerative Medicine
Principal, McEwen Stem Cell Institute
Staff Pathologist, UHN Laboratory Medicine Program
Associate Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto​​​​​

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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:

  1. the first proof-of-concept study showing that the transplantation of hPSC-CMs can “remuscularize” scar tissue and improve left ventricular contractile function in rodent MI models; and
  2. the first direct demonstration that grafts of hPSC-CMs can electrically couple with host myocardium following transplantation in injured hearts.

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;5:52
Hansen 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):945-948
Masoudpour H, Laflamme MA

Micro- and nano-patterned conductive graphene-PEG hybrid scaffolds for cardiac tissue engineering.​
Chem Commun (Camb). 2017 Jun 29;53(53):7412-7415
Smith AST, Yoo H, Yi H, Ahn EH, Lee JH, Shao G, Nagornyak E, Laflamme MA, Murry CE, Kim DH

Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael Laflamme​

Research Technicians

Tamilla Valdman Sadikov
Matthew Siemon

Research Associate

Beiping Qiang

Postdoctoral Fellows

Naaz Andharia
Rocco Romagnuolo
Wahiba Dhahri

Students

Christoph Haller, PhD Student
Joseph Jargstorf, Masters Student
Andrew Laskary, Masters Student
Amine Mazine, PhD Student (co-advised)

Cardiomyocytes
Pluripotent-stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes in vitro produced in the labs of Dr. Michael Laflamme

Cardiomyocyte graft
Stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte graft in an infarcted pig heart produced in the labs of Dr. Michael Laflamme​

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.​​​​​​​​