Mark Mercola

Mark Mercola, Ph.D.[La Jolla]

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country. At the moment, the only way to effectively replace lost heart muscle cells—called cardiomyocytes—is to transplant the entire heart. We think using a drug to create new heart muscle from stem cells would be far more appealing than heart transplantation.

  • Research

    Dr. Mercola's research is directed at discovering new therapeutics for heart failure and cancer.

  • Biography

    Mark Mercola earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.



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Mark Mercola's Research Focus

Heart Disease, Cancer

Our lab seeks to enable new treatments for heart disease and cancer, both of which remain major causes of mortality and morbidity despite intense research efforts. For heart disease, our emphases are on maintaining contractility and stimulating regeneration during heart failure. Some of our recent advances include the discovery of microRNAs that impair cardiac function during failure, and the demonstration that inhibiting one particular microRNA using a therapeutic RNA molecule can halt the progression of heart failure symptoms in a mouse model. Another example is a small molecule that directs cardiac progenitor cells to form new heart muscle cells. For cancer, our focus has been on developing small molecules that target the control of cell division. One example is a highly potent small molecule that targets a single protein to simultaneously stabilize p53 and inhibit Wnt/β-catenin signaling, and has promising effects against colon cancer in an animal model.

Our strategy is to model complex disease processes in vitro, and then to apply use high throughput functional genomics and chemical biology approaches to identify potential drug targets. A major emphasis of the lab has been to work with the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics and Vala Sciences (San Diego) to develop and apply new optical screening technologies for image-based analysis of disease processes. This collaboration has led to instrumentation, software and stem cell-based assays for high throughput study of physiology such as muscle contraction and neuronal impulse propagation. Through such technological advances we hope to gain insights into basic disease mechanisms that will enable the development of novel therapeutics.

About Mark Mercola


Mark Mercola earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1985. Dr. Mercola trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Department of Microbiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. He was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School in 1991 and Associate Professor in 1996. Dr. Mercola joined Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in 2002 where he is Professor and Director of the Muscle Development and Regeneration Program, and is also adjunct Professor in the Department of Pathology and the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego.

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Related to My Areas of Research

• University of California, Los Angeles, BA, 1979, Microbiology
• University of California, Los Angeles, PhD, 1985, Molecular Biology

Other Appointments

• 2007-present Associate Director, Neurosciences, Aging and Stem Cell Research Center, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
• 2002-present Professor, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Department of Pathology and Pediatrics (adjunt), UCSD School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA
• 1998-2002 Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
• 1991-1997 Assistant Professor, Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
• 1985-1991 Research Fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Funding Awards and Collaborative Grants

1991 - present Grants: NICHD, NHLBI,  American Heart Association, American Cancer Society

Honors and Recognition

• 2007 MERIT Award (National Institutes of Health)
• 1997 Established Investigator Award, American Heart Association
• 1991 - 1993 Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Award, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
• 1989 Richard A. Smith Prize, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
• 1986 - 1989 American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship

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