Research Overview

Dr. Chaudhry is Associate Professor of Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine and Director of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine. She was recruited from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons where she was Florence Irving Assistant Professor of Medicine. Dr. Chaudhry is an NIH-funded physician-scientist whose basic research interests are focused on cardiac regeneration utilizing both cell cycle regulation and endogenous cardiac progenitors. Dr. Chaudhry received her medical degree with honors from Harvard Medical School, trained in internal medicine at Duke and cardiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She has trained in genetics and developmental biology at Columbia University.

Her laboratory is focused on cell cycle regulation of cardiomyocytes and endogenous progenitor cells in the heart. Cardiomyocyte death with the ensuing loss of cardiac pump function is noted in many forms of cardiovascular disease. This decline of cardiovascular function might be partially abated if the surviving myocardium retained even a limited ability to proliferate. In mammalian hearts, cardiomyocytes proliferate throughout fetal development and into the early neonatal period. In the neonatal heart, DNA replication declines quickly and cardiomyocyte division ceases. Therefore, in adulthood, cardiac tissue cannot regenerate after injury such as myocardial infarction. A thorough understanding of the mechanisms of this process may potentiate therapeutic strategies for cardiomyocyte regeneration. Cell cycle progression in both normal and cancer cells is regulated by the expression of cyclins and the activation of their associated Cdks.  Dr. Chaudhry was the first to identify cyclin A2 as being the critical mediator of cell division in heart muscle cells.  Her research efforts have further demonstrated that activation of cyclin A2 or vector-mediated delivery of cyclin A2 induces cardiac repair in mammalian hearts after myocardial infarction.  This repair process is associated with significant improvement in cardiac contractility and the generation of new cardiomyocytes in the injured zone.  Her laboratory has recently succeeded in demonstrating that cyclin A2 induces repair in a large mammalian infarct model as well, thus setting the stage for human clinical trials of cyclin A2.

The Chaudhry laboratory is also studying endogenous cardiac stem cells, such as side-population (SP) cells, and their role in cardiac repair.  Her team is investigating ways of specifically activating these endogenous stem cells to proliferate and repopulate the heart after injury.  Fetal stem cells, derived from placenta, are also being studied in her laboratory.  Her group has recently shown that these cells have the ability to home to the injured heart and differentiate into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells.