Sean Wu, MD, PhD, of the MGH Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC), is one of 31 recipients of the 2008 New Innovator Awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He joins MGH investigators Nir Hacohen, PhD, of the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases, and Konrad Hochedlinger, PhD, of the Center for Regenerative Medicine, who received the award in 2007, the program's inaugural year. Designed for researchers in the early stages of their careers, the New Innovator Awards provide $1.5 million in grant support over five years.
A member of the CVRC's Stem Cell Biology and Therapy Program, Wu and his team investigate the earliest developmental stages of the mammalian heart with a focus on defining the biological properties of progenitor cells that give rise to the different types of cells in the cardiovascular system. Using a mouse model and embryonic stem cells from mice, they have identified progenitor cells that can develop into both beating cardiac muscle and the cells that line the heart's vascular system. Further study of these cells should add to the understanding of cardiovascular development and contribute to efforts to regenerate the heart and other vascular structures through tissue engineering.