Sep 22nd, 2012 | Austin, Texas

This year we were introduced to the Kidney Contenders, a group taking great initiative to promote kidney health awareness in the state of Texas. They are working hard to acquaint themselves with individuals that work for institutions that can assist the public with kidney awareness.

The Kidney Contenders will host their 2nd Annual Symposium this fall.  Research Now!  will address the growing trends with medical research and how clinical trials are needed to progress our status as leaders in the research community. Topics include adult stem cells, Induced Pluripotent Stems (IPS), Viral Vectors and microscopic transplants. The event is free to both the public and the press, and will take place at the Texas State Capitol on Saturday, September 22nd, 2012.  Robert J. Schwartz, PhD, director of Stem Cell Engineering at Texas Heart Institute (THI) and director of UH’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Experimental Therapeutics will discuss his latest work in during his presentation “Making Skin Cells into Heart Cells.

Visit Kidney Contenders Website for more Details about the full program.


Robert J. Schwartz, PhD
Director, Stem Cell Engineering, Texas Heart Institute (THI)
Co-Director, Heart Failure and Stem Cell Research Laboratories, Texas Heart Institute
Director of UH's Center for Molecular Medicine and Experimental Therapeutics
Cullen Distinguished Professor
Biology and Biochemistry
University of Houston
Houston, Texas

Dr Schwartz is a leading cell biologist and a pioneer in elucidating transcription regulation of heart development. Schwartz has been continuously funded by federal grants since 1979 dealing with cardiac gene regulation and genomics. He has been at the forefront of this field; to date, of his 203 publications in top-tier journals, more than 45 have been cited at least 100 times., a mark of making important contributions to cardiovascular research. Significantly, Schwartz pioneered a breakthrough technology for turning ordinary human skin cells into early-stage heart cells. Directed trans-differentiation of somatic cells to cells of other lineages offers a new avenue for stem cell replacement therapy. His research team explored the role of mammalian ETS1/2 and Mesp homologues of cardiogenic transcription factors of Ciona intestinalis, to convert primary human dermal fibroblasts into cardiac progenitors. Co-expression of both Ets2 and Mesp1, successfully reprogrammed human skin fibroblasts into cardiac progenitors, as shown by the de novo appearance of core cardiac transcription factors, gap junction proteins, sarcomeric proteins, electrical activity, and contractility. ETS2 and Mesp1 sit at the pinnacle of the cardiopoiesis regulatory hierarchy. Generating cardiac progenitors from fibroblasts is one of the most important milestones in contemporary biology.

Robert J. Schwartz, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry and the Director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Experimental Therapeutic at the University of Houston. He previously was at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he served as a tenured professor in the Departments of Cell Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Medicine, and Molecular Physiology. He also was co-director of the Baylor College of Medicine Center for Cardiovascular Development. Schwartz also spent five years at the Institute of Biosciences and Technology where he was the Director of the Institute. During his more than thirty five years in Houston, Schwartz became widely recognized for his research on the developmental and genetic aspects of congenital heart disease. In this field he has received seventeen US patents and co-founded three companies. He earned his B.S. from Brooklyn College and his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania.