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SDSU Biologist Wins $8.5 Million Grant For Heart Research

Aired 11/11/13 on KPBS News.

A San Diego State biologist has won an $8.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue his cutting-edge research into heart health.

— San Diego State biology professor Mark Sussman has received an $8.5 million federal grant to explore whether stem cells could help repair damaged hearts.

Researchers from SDSU and UC San Diego will collaborate on the five-year project.

The prestigious grant comes from the National Institutes of Health. It’s the second such award Sussman has won to study heart disease.

Sussman, the chief research scientist at the school's Heart Institute, said damaged hearts try to repair themselves following an injury.

“It’s the idea that the heart has the ability to heal, but over the course of your lifetime, that ability becomes impaired, and if you have an insult, or damage, it really gets hurt," Sussman said. "And so, how do we bring that back? How do we restore that lost ability to heal?”

Sussman and his team of researchers will try to figure out whether modified stem cells can help the heart repair itself.

The ultimate goal is to develop new treatments.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the nation. 597,689 Americans died from it in 2010.

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