Professor Michael Schneider
BHF Simon Marks Chair of Regenerative Cardiology
Director, BHF Centre
for Research Excellence, Imperial College
Vital cells in our heart muscle can die when
starved of oxygen in a heart attack, or when
stressed by increased work load, and heart failure
can develop if the sudden or accumulated damage is bad enough.
At present nothing can be done to repair the damage and the
outlook for the hundreds of thousands of people living in the UK
with heart failure is poor.
Professor Michael Schneider and his research team at Imperial
are exploring ways to change that. They want to know what changes
in the heart muscle cells drive them to die, and find out if
much-anticipated stem cell therapies are able to repair the
The professor's work with stem cells is a vital part of our
Mending Broken Hearts campaign. We're
looking to spend £50m to help people with heart failure following a
What happens when heart muscle cells die?
Professor Schneider’s team are investigating the biological
intricacies of healthy and diseased heart muscle cells, to find out
which molecular components are switched on or off when they are
The team were among the first to show that several genes
involved in ‘apoptosis’ - a process where unwanted cells are
programmed to destroy themselves – may also prevent heart muscle
cells from degenerating.
They are now looking for more molecular components that protect
our hearts, including drugs to prevent cells dying. This research
may point to ways of preventing damage, or new avenues for
Can stem cells repair damaged heart tissue?
Stem cells can turn into any of the body’s cell types depending
on the biological ‘instructions’ they receive, but they rarely
become heart muscle cells. Professor Schneider is defining the
steps and signals that stem cells need to create new heart muscle
Professor Schneider has also discovered a new type of cell
within the heart itself that can create new heart muscle in mice.
He will use state-of-the-art technologies to investigate these
cells and find out if their human counterpart might be the key to
cardiac repair in human heart disease.
Read more about how BHF-funded research has helped people affected
by heart attacks
and heart failure