Stem Cell Clinical Trials Expert to Lead Cardiology Division at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute

Los Angeles - July 24, 2013Timothy D. Henry, MD, an expert known for his innovative work in developing stem cell treatments for advanced heart disease patients, has joined the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute as director of Cardiology.

Henry comes to Cedars-Sinai from Minneapolis, where he was director of research for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine.

As Henry begins his tenure, Prediman K. Shah, MD, the renowned cardiologist who has led the Division of Cardiology for nearly 20 years, is stepping down to focus on patient care and on basic and clinical research, including his quest to develop a vaccine and mutant-gene-based therapies that would thwart heart attacks by preventing and possibly reversing arterial cholesterol buildup. Shah, the Shapell and Webb Family Chair in Clinical Cardiology, director of the Oppenheimer Atherosclerosis Research Center and director of the Atherosclerosis Prevention and Treatment Center, also will continue treating patients and teaching medical residents and cardiology trainees.

“Dr. Shah has been a wonderful colleague and a highly respected national leader, accelerating the pre-eminence of our Cardiology Division, and Dr. Henry will be starting his new position from a robust platform built over many decades of outstanding service,” said Shlomo Melmed, MD, senior vice president of Academic Affairs, dean of the Cedars-Sinai medical faculty and the Helene A. and Philip E. Hixon Chair in Investigative Medicine. “We are delighted that Dr. Shah will be remaining on as a senior cardiologist in our Heart Institute.”

“This is a milestone moment,” said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. “At the same time we celebrate Dr. Shah’s achievements and his valuable contributions to the Heart Institute and to overall heart health, we are welcoming Dr. Henry and beginning a new era during which we foresee the next wave of leading-edge stem cell clinical trials for heart disease patients.”  

For several years, Henry has been collaborating with Marbán on stem cell clinical trials. The first such collaboration follows upon work at Cedars-Sinai in which heart attack patients received infusions of cardiac stem cells. This study, published in February 2012 in The Lancet, showed that patients who underwent the stem cell procedure experienced a significant reduction in the size of the scar left behind by a heart attack. Patients also experienced a sizable increase in healthy heart muscle following the experimental stem cell treatments.

The new study is being directed by Henry and by Raj Makkar, MD, director of Interventional Cardiology and associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. The national trial called ALLSTAR uses heart cells from unrelated donors in an effort to reverse lasting tissue damage after a heart attack.

“My goal in joining the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute is to help make stem cells a regular treatment option for heart disease,” Henry said. “Right now, many patients with advanced heart disease have limited treatment options. Stem cells are the next frontier.”

A native of Mohall, N.D., Henry earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Dakota and his medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco. Following an internship, residency and cardiology research fellowship at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Henry moved to the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Heart Institute, where he has focused on interventional cardiology, treatment of patients with acute heart attacks and novel therapy for patients with advanced heart disease who are not candidates for bypass surgery or stenting.  

He has authored hundreds of studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee for the AHA Mission: Lifeline Program, the AHA Acute Cardiac Care Committee of the Council on Clinical Cardiology and the Board of the Society of Chest Pain Centers. He has served as national principal investigator of multiple large, multicenter trials in acute coronary syndromes, myocardial infarction and angiogenesis including several ongoing cardiovascular stem cell trials, including RENEW, ALLSTAR and ATHENA. He is also principal investigator for one of seven NIH Clinical Cardiovascular Stem Cell Centers. As a visiting professor, Henry has lectured throughout the world on systems of care for acute myocardial infarction, refractory angina and stem cell therapy for cardiovascular disease. The process to grow cardiac-derived stem cells was developed by Dr. Marbán when he was on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University. Johns Hopkins has filed for a patent on that intellectual property and has licensed it to Capricor, a company in which Cedars-Sinai and Marbán have a financial interest. Capricor is providing funds for the ALLSTAR clinical study at Cedars-Sinai.