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Cardio specialist Suphansa Sawamiphak heads new junior research group at the MDC

2017's first new research group at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) has started its work: Dr. Suphansa Sawamiphak and her team investigate the role of macrophages in myocardial infarction.

Suphansa’s junior working group "Cardiovascular-hematopoietic interaction" aims to find out the role of different blood cells in the regeneration of the heart at the cellular and molecular level. The scientists focus on zebrafish as a model organism. Zebrafish have a well-developed immune system and heart muscles which, unlike mammals, have particularly strong regenerative abilities.

Suphansa Sawamiphak. Image: Alessandro Filosa

“We know that components of the immune system, macrophages in particular, are indispensable for tissue repair,“ says Suphansa. “Thus, unravelling the functions of various macrophage subtypes and their interactions with other cells in the heart during the intricate regenerative process in zebrafish promise to reveal what limits the regenerative capacity of the mammalian heart.” A first milestone of the scientist and her team is to identify genes which play a role in the differentiation and regeneration of different macrophage subtypes. Suphansa wants to find out if modulating certain genes can promote the cardiac repair after heart attacks.

In 2010, Suphansa Sawamiphak received her PhD from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. The results of her dissertation were published in Nature. Most recently she worked at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim and at the University of California, San Francisco, USA.