Dr. Kearns-Jonker studies heart cells in space to improve medical treatments on Earth.
At Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Dr. Mary Kearns-Jonker studies how microgravity affects human cardiovascular progenitor cells, which share many characteristics with stem cells. Sending these cells to the ISS leads to new discoveries about their function because they alter their behavior in response to microgravity. The ultimate goal is to improve the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease—the leading cause of death in the United States.
Stem cells and progenitor cells are important tools in regenerative medicine. Emerging treatments in this field can use a patient’s own cells repair damaged tissue and even fight tumors. Learning more about these cells through space-based experiments will help biologists grow and manipulate them in labs on Earth.