Mending a Broken Heart

Ph.D. candidate Aaron Chen wins Public Impact Fellowship for cardiac patch research

Since stem cells were first discovered to be a basis of new medical treatments, researchers have touted their potential to repair the human heart.

Millions of Americans suffer heart attacks each year, and those who survive never fully recover. Left behind is scarred and dead tissue that never mends, and research has focused on utilizing stem cells to initiate new growth.

Recent results show promise. One study this February found that cardiac stem cells regenerated heart muscle in patients who had suffered heart attacks.

UC Irvine doctoral candidate Cheng-Wei “Aaron” Chen is pursuing another approach. He believes that human embryonic stem cells can be used to create tissue — a sort of cardiac patch that could be grafted onto damaged heart areas and stimulate regrowth.

His research has earned him a 2011-12 Public Impact Fellowship. Instituted by Graduate Division Dean Frances Leslie, the $10,000 prize supports UCI grad students whose work has the potential to significantly benefit society.

Read More>>