Michaela Patterson, PhD

Michaela Patterson, PhD

Assistant Professor


  • Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy
    MEB M4575
    Cardiovascular Center


Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
BS, Bates College, Lewiston, ME

Research Areas of Interest

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Diploidy
  • Heart
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myocardium
  • Myocytes, Cardiac
  • Polyploidy
  • Regeneration

Research Interests

Stem Cells and Development, Vol. 28, No. 23 Journal Cover

Michaela Patterson and Samantha K. Swift. Stem Cells and Development. Dec 2019. ahead of print

Stem Cells and Development Vol. 28, No. 23 Journal Cover

Cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern heart regeneration

Heart failure remains the leading cause of death worldwide necessitating continued efforts to identify therapeutic strategies that will stimulate tissue regeneration and functional recovery after an insult, such as a heart attack. My lab seeks to understand the genetic, molecular and cellular processes that allow for endogenous heart cells, cardiomyocytes, to re-enter the cell cycle and regenerate lost cardiac muscle tissue.

Recent discoveries: Our recent work published in Nature Genetics (Patterson et al., 2017) offered two important discoveries to the field of heart regeneration. First, it challenged the long-maintained notion that adult mammalian heart regeneration is insignificant and instead established that the capacity to regenerate one's heart after injury is a variable trait. In other words, there are some individuals capable of regenerating their hearts better than others. Supporting this, we took an unbiased, forward genetic approach to identify the gene(s) responsible for variable heart regeneration and validated the role of one of several candidate genes. Secondly, this work provided strength to the model that only a subset of cardiomyocytes, specifically the mononuclear diploid cardiomyocytes (MNDCMs), can contribute to myocardial regeneration. The lab intends to expand upon these findings in the following directions:

1) Exploiting natural variation to understand the genetic mechanisms of heart regeneration.

From our original genetic screen, several additional candidates remain unexplored for their roles in heart regeneration. Using complementary techniques, including viral delivery, drug-based manipulations, and genetic animal models, we will explore the function of these additional candidates both in heart development and regeneration. Future projects will also explore the epistatic relationship between the candidate genes.

2) Characterizing the nature of MNDCMs and assessing their role in heart regeneration.

To date, MNDCMs remain an understudied and underappreciated cell type within the heart. This project will make use of unpublished single cell RNAseq data to understand how they differ from the non-regeneration competent cells of the heart and to definitively test if they are the cell responsible for myocardial regeneration.

3) Of course, bring your own ideas!

We are actively recruiting trainees at all levels and welcome new ideas to transform the way we think about heart regeneration. If you are interested in joining or rotating in the Patterson Lab, please contact Michaela Patterson, PhD at


Michaela Patterson, PhD Lab

Patterson Lab members

Kaelin Akins, Graduate Student
Alexandra Purdy, Graduate Student
Samantha Swift, Graduate Student
Tyler Buddell, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, CVC T32 recipient
Mary Kolell, Research Technician
Sydney Buday, Research Technician

Past members

Parker Foster, Research Associate > now: MCW Med School
Xiangwen Peng, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow > now: Director of Research, Changsha Hospital, Hunan Normal University