Mark Keating approaches cardiovascular disease at the molecular level. Not only is he investigating the etiology of arrhythmias through molecular genetics, he is also studying possible approaches to molecular regeneration of cardiac tissue.
In the first line of research, Keating and colleagues discovered the first genes associated with cardiac arrhythmias and have established that they encode ion channel functions within heart tissue. They have identified mutations in a single gene, HERG, as responsible for almost half of all hereditary arrhythmias. They have also demonstrated that a variant of another gene, SCN5A, which is carried by about 13 per cent of African-Americans, is associated with acquired arrhythmias in that population.
In the second area of research, the Keating lab has studied zebrafish to identify the molecular signals that trigger the regeneration of amputated fins and heart tissue. They have discovered that such signals initiate dedifferentiation in fully dedicated cell types. The dedifferentiated cells take on some of the characteristics of stem cells--most notably the expression of markers for several cell types. Dedifferentiated cells subsequently give rise to the types of tissue needed to replace lost or damaged cells. Keating speculates that it may be possible to harness the molecular signals therapeutically to initiate the dedifferentiation and proliferation of cardiomyocytes following ischemic injury.
About Mark Keating
Mark Keating received his MD degree from the Johns Hopkins University. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital and in cardiovascular diseases at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Keating is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is the recipient of the Basic Science Prize from the American Heart Association and the Cardiovascular Research Award from the Pasarow Foundation.