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World-Renowned Cell-Therapy Researcher, Doris Taylor, PhD, Joins Texas Heart Institute

Houston, Texas (January 25, 2012) – Officials at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital (St. Luke’s) announced today that Doris Taylor, PhD, FAHA, FACC, one of the world’s leading cell therapy and cardiac regeneration scientists, will join THI beginning March 1, 2012. Dr. Taylor’s research includes: Cell and gene therapy for treatment of cardiovascular disease; tissue engineering of bioartificial organs and vasculature; cell-based prevention of disease; stem cells and cancer; and holistic approaches to using cell therapy for treating chronic disease. She was recruited to THI with generous support from the Houston Endowment.

Most recently, Dr. Taylor and her team garnered international recognition for her work involving “whole organ decellularization,” in which they showed they can remove the existing cells from hearts of laboratory animals and even humans to leave a framework for building new organs. By then repopulating the framework with another human adult stem cells and giving it a blood supply, the heart regenerates, taking on the characteristics and functions of a revitalized beating heart. The hope is that this research is an early step toward being able to grow a fully functional human heart in the laboratory. Dr. Taylor has demonstrated that the process works for other organs as well – opening a door in the field of organ transplantation. It is significant in that the need for transplants continues to grow, while the supply of donor organs remains critically low.

“Dr. Taylor is certainly one of the stars in the adult human stem cell field, and we feel extremely fortunate to have her join our team,” said Dr. James T. Willerson, THI’s President and Medical Director. “Her work fits very well with our mission and goals, and she certainly helps to solidify THI as a leader in cell therapy, which is one of the most promising hopes for treating cardiovascular disease.”

“The chance to work with Dr. Willerson and the THI team as colleagues is very exhilarating. From molecules, to cells, to organs and tissues, we want to create solutions for people with disease,” said Dr. Taylor. “I am confident that I am joining a regenerative medicine program that is unparalleled. And, given the breadth of innovation and science in Houston, I have every confidence that building solutions for heart diseases not only has a long history, but a bright future.”

The move to Houston will also bring her closer to her family, notes Dr. Taylor.

Dr. Taylor has been serving as director of the Center for Cardiovascular Repair and Medtronic Bakken Chair in Integrative Biology and Physiology at the University of Minnesota. Prior to that she was on the faculty as Associate Professor in Cardiology at Duke University Medical Center. A native of Mississippi, Dr. Taylor holds a B.S. in biology from Mississippi University for Women and a Doctorate in pharmacology from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.



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