Leadership and Key Members
Ali Nsair, MD
Ali Nsair, MD, is a physician scientist whose research interest is cardiovascular regenerative therapies in end stage heart disease and post myocardial infarctions. His research focuses on studying endogenous cardiac progenitor cells in the human fetal heart. Understanding the native endogenous cardiac progenitor during the fetal stage will offer a model to recapitulate a multipotent progenitor cell from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) to be used in cardiovascular regenerative therapies.
After completing his adult cardiac clinical fellowship at the University of Alberta, Dr. Nsair joined Dr. Robb MacLellan’s lab as a post doctoral fellow at UCLA after being awarded the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research fellowship to study cardiovascular stem cell biology. After completing his Post Doctoral Fellowship, he was recruited by the Division of Cardiology as a full time physician scientist with clinical duties in the heart failure, heart transplant and mechanical circulatory support service and basic research in cardiac stem cell therapies.
Dr. Nsair’s lab focuses on studying the embryonic cardiovascular progenitor cell (CPC) and the cardiac niche this CPC exists in. By understanding the developmental evolution of the CPC embryologicaly, this lead to techniques to isolate this CPC from differentiating human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC). His lab utilizes transgenic mice to identify this progenitor based on different transcription factors and novel surface markers to isolate them. He has demonstrated clonal expansion of this iPSC-derived CPC in a feeder and xeno-free manner in the mouse model and its ability to regenerate damaged myocardium in a small animal model after transplantation post myocardial infarction. His team is focusing on translating these findings into large animal models. As well, his lab is focusing on the extracellular matrix and the control networks that regulate the embryonic human cardiac niche and translating these findings to tissue engineering models to expand hiPSC-derived CPCs in-vitro for use in clinical cardiac cell therapy.
Dr. Nsair’s clinical interest is in advanced heart failure and transplantation. He is a member of the UCLA Heart Transplant team and treats patients pre and post orthotopic heart transplantation and patients who have left ventricular assist devices as destination therapy and bridge to transplantation. He hopes to translate the hiPSC-based therapies to this population of patients with end stage heart failure. He has active collaborations with Dr. MacLellan’s team at the University of Washington and Dr. Katja Schenke-Layland at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany. He was awarder the Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Award, UCLA Cardiovascular Discovery Fund Award and his research is funded through the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.