Nick Peters with slide


Professor Sian Harding
Lead academic
+44 (0)20 7594 3009

Study with NHLI
'Beating' heart muscle cell (cardiomyocyte) from a human heart

What we do

Our research focuses on the role of the myocardium (cardiac muscle) in heart failure. We use a range of models from surgically-removed human myocardium and complex animal models, to stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes from patients with genetic disease. Our key focus is the understanding of heart failure and development of new therapeutic strategies.    

Why it is important

Heart and circulatory disease kills more than one in four people in the UK (causing 26 per cent of all deaths); that’s nearly 160,000 deaths each year – an average of 435 people each day or one death every three minutes.

Impact of our research

Through the study of the changes in failing heart, we have brought developments to the clinic with new electrophysiological methods and the first UK gene therapy clinical trials. We have discovered new mechanisms underlying Chemotherapeutic Cardiomyopathy and Takotsubo/Stress Syndrome. Under the BHF Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Centre we are currently developing engineered heart tissue made from stem cell-derived cardiac muscle cells for grafting into damaged hearts. Novel biomaterials are being combined with the stem cells to produce an optimised functional cardiac patch. We also use these stem cell-derived human cardiac muscle cells as disease-in-a-dish models to understand the changes induced by human genetic variants. 

Summary of current research

  • Development of new imaging methods, allowing nanoscale resolution or 3D interrogation of live heart tissue and cells.
  • Conductive polymers to help stem cell derived cardiomyocytes integrate safely into the damaged heart.
  • Ultrathin slice models of cardiac muscle, including human, to understand rhythm abnormalities and integration of stem cells. 
  • Both gene edited and patient-derived pluripotent stem cells to provide cardiac muscle for understanding of cardiac dysfunction and rhythm disturbances in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. 


Our researchers