High blood pressure is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and kidney disease, in the United States. Dr. Ivonne Schulman is a high blood pressure and kidney disease specialist with expertise in how circulating factors and aging affect blood vessel and cardiovascular function. Dr. Schulman’s research focuses on identifying the mechanisms underlying the cardiovascular regenerative capacity of stem cells. In particular, her studies investigate the effect of circulating factors and aging on stem cell growth and differentiation, as it relates to cardiovascular health, using the tools of cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, microscopy, and small animal models.
In light of the growing number of elderly in the United States population, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death and disability among the aging population, is of paramount importance. Investigating the function of stem cell populations in the cardiovascular system during aging is both important from a therapeutic potential and developmental understanding. A stem cell must retain capacity to self-renew and differentiate into various cell types to regenerate aged or injured blood vessels as well as heart and kidney tissues and restore normal function. Although drug therapies have been developed to slow the progression of cardiovascular diseases, this approach has significant limitations and does not reverse the disease process, urging the study of additional methods of restoring cardiovascular tissue function. Cell-based therapies hold the promise and potential for cardiovascular tissue regeneration and health.