Carol Gregorio, PhD, director of the Molecular Cardiovascular Research Program and head of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the UA College of Medicine, is the Luxford/Schoolcraft Endowed Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Research. Dr. Gregorio also is vice dean of innovation and development for the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson and interim director of the UA Sarver Heart Center.
As a basic scientist, she has a special research interest in the contractile proteins of heart muscle in health and disease. Not only has she made major contributions to the understanding of heart muscle abnormalities, she also has been an integral part of the UA College of Medicine’s and Sarver Heart Center’s goal to strengthen its translational research.
The research objectives of Dr. Gregorio's laboratory can be broadly summarized as:
1) Understanding the cellular mechanisms involved in the assembly, regulation and maintenance of contractile proteins in cardiac muscle in health and disease
2) Deciphering the mechanisms critical for precisely specifying and maintaining the lengths of actin filaments. Actin is an indispensable structural element of cells and is the major component of heart muscle. Changes in actin, caused by genetic mutations, which have been identified in humans, are a frequent cause of several forms of cardiomyopathy. We are determining how genetic defects in this protein affect muscle force generation and muscle contraction, leading to sudden cardiac death.
3) Investigating how striated muscle cells maintain their shape, drive contraction, and generate mechanical force through the efficient integration of microfilament, microtubule and intermediate filament (IF) function.
4) Discovery of novel models of de novo cardiac muscle assembly, with special emphasis on differentiating murine embryonic stem (ES) cells to study the functional properties of specific cytoskeletal proteins (via “knock out” and “knock in” approaches) during all stages of heart muscle development.