Caitlin O'Meara, PhD

Caitlin O'Meara, PhD

Assistant Professor


  • Cardiovascular Center

Contact Information

Research Interests

Higher organisms such as zebrafish and neonatal mice are capable of complete heart regeneration following partial amputation. Although adult humans and adult mice lack this regeneration response, there is great interest in understanding how heart regeneration can occur so that we can activate this process in humans to better treat patients following myocardial infarction. My research is focused on understanding the cell biology of heart regeneration and cardiomyocyte cell cycle activity.

Zebrafish and neonatal mouse heart regeneration is thought to occur primarily by proliferation of resident cardiomyocytes whereby myocytes revert to a less differentiated state, disassemble sarcomere structures and re-enter a proliferative state. One project in my lab focuses on understanding the extracellular cues that stimulate cardiomyocyte cell cycle activity. In preliminary studies we found that the anti-inflammatory cytokine Interleukin 13 (IL13) is a regulator of differentially expressed gene networks during neonatal mouse heart regeneration and stimulates cardiomyocyte cell cycle activity in vitro. We are investigating the role of IL13 in heart regeneration in vivo by genetic ablation of IL13 and exogenous delivery of recombinant IL13 in neonatal regeneration models and adult myocardial infarction models. Furthermore, we are investigating downstream signaling networks that mediate cardiomyocyte cell cycle activity. Novel mediators identified in our studies can be targeted as a translational approach for stimulating heart regeneration in the future.

My lab is also interested in understanding the role of inflammation in heart regeneration and adult myocardial infarction. We use the rat, mouse, and zebrafish models to investigate inflammatory cell polarization in the context of heart injury.

This work is supported in part by an American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant (17SDG33370061).