Cardiac researcher Dr. Sylvia Evans has received an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for her innovative efforts to develop new treatments for heart failure.Sylvia Evans, PhD, is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology and Professor of Pharmacy at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Dr. Evans, a developmental biologist, investigates heart development and congenital heart disease. In recent work, she has sought to identify how cardiac progenitor cells develop into the specialized cells, or cell lineages, that make up a functioning heart.

Her NIH Pioneer Award project is entitled, “Approaches to Cardiac Regeneration.” In it, Dr. Evans is exploring the possibility of using cardiac progenitor cells to treat adult heart disease.

The Pioneer Award grant will provide five years of funding, with $772,500 in fiscal year 2009-2010.  |  Read the news release from the National Institutes of Health

“This award is well deserved. Dr. Evans has contributed greatly to our understanding of how the heart forms. Her research has led to novel concepts about how to generate new heart tissue for the treatment of heart failure,” said Dr. Kirk Knowlton, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Cardiology.

Dr. Knowlton and Dr. Evans have collaborated in cardiac research since Dr. Evans joined the faculty in 1991. They and Dr. Andrew McCulloch from Bioengineering are co-directors of the Cardiac Biomedical Science and Engineering Center of the UCSD Institute of Engineering in Medicine.

Pioneer Awards are granted to research projects in which the NIH Director’s Office sees extraordinary originality and promise. Only a small number are given each year.

Dr. Evans is one of 18 U.S. researchers honored with a Pioneer Award in 2009. The awards were announced in a ceremony at the Pioneer Award Symposium September 24-25 in Bethesda, Maryland.

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