Mark Sussman, San Diego State University, San Diego (USA)
Professor of Biology at San Diego State University and key investigator at the San Diego State University Heart Research Institute.
Mark Sussman joined the Scientific and Medical Committee of Telethon in 2014.
Mark Sussman is a tenured Professor of Biology at San Diego State University and key investigator at the San Diego State University Heart Research Institute. He entered myocardial research during postdoctoral studies, studying the role of the cardiac protein, tropomodulin. Building upon his postdoctoral work, Sussman created the first mouse model of dilated cardiomyopathy, based on cardiac-specific transgenic overexpression of tropomodulin. Repairing and restoring myocardial structure and function represents the ideal outcome for treatment of cardiomyopathy. Current therapeutic interventions rely predominantly upon pharmacologic strategies to slow the progression of heart failure, or on mechanical assist device or a transplanted donor heart. Over the past decade, a concerted effort by scientists and clinicians has advanced the use of gene therapy as an alternative approach to treatment of heart failure. Still now, many practical aspects of gene therapy such as delivery and targeted expression in the myocardium, regulation of gene expression, and persistence of expression have hampered implementation of myocardial gene therapy for treatment of heart failure. Recent discoveries related to the potentials of stem cells in regeneration and repair of the myocardium have shifted the paradigm of treatment for myocardial disease. His research concentrates upon existing challenges in stem-cell based treatment and how these may be overcome by incorporation of gene therapy, resulting in a combinatorial approach that uses genetic engineering to potentiate stem cell activity for myocardial repair.