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Steven R. Houser, PhD, FAHA

Vera J. Goodfriend Chair in Cardiovascular Research
Professor, Cardiovascular Research Center 
Professor, Cardiovascular Sciences
Professor, Medicine

Steven Houser
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MERB 1041
About Me

Research Interests

The research in the Houser laboratory is focused on those processes that maintain the electrical and contractile properties of the normal heart and the defects in these processes that lead to electrical instability (arrhythmias and sudden death) and poor cardiac pump performance congestive heart failure). We are currently continuing our studies of the determinants of cellular electrical and mechanical defects in diseased cardiac myocytes. In addition, we are exploring the idea that a major factor that determines the overall state of cardiac myocyte function is a balance between new myocyte formation (cardiac regeneration) and programmed myocyte death (apoptosis).

Our cell physiology studies are exploring the idea that activation of Ca2+ dependent signaling pathways (mainly through CAMKII) regulate Ca2+ handling proteins in diseased myocytes. We have developed techniques in live cells to track Ca2+ dependent activation of NFAT and are characterizing the associated alterations in cell function. These studies are being performed in collaboration with Dr. Jeffrey Molkentin at the University of Cincinnati. The second and third areas of new research are centered on the new idea that there is myocyte turnover in the adult heart. Therefore, we are studying the factors that regulate cell death (mainly through apoptosis, with Dr. Richard Kitsis) and new myocyte formation (via cardiac progenitor cells, with Drs Annarosa Leri and Piero Anversa). We have identified cardiac stem/progenitor cells in feline and human hearts and plan for a rapid expansion of this novel (and controversial) area. We will specifically explore the hypothesis that hypertrophy in response to pressure overload involves new myocyte formation in addition to enlargement of terminally differentiated myocytes. Our newest data shows that expression of T-type Ca2+ channels is linked to differentiation of cardiac stem cells into new cardiac myocytes. Ca2+ influx through these channels also appears to be linked to proliferation of new myocytes.

Developing Therapies to Prevent and Reverse Heart Damage

Researchers Dr. Steven Houser and Dr. Walter Koch have been on a quest to prevent and repair damage to the heart cells for decades, with the goals of changing the lives of patients with heart disease. Research breakthroughs like these could mean that we are just steps away from dramatically changing the way that heart disease is treated.

Award Recipient - 62nd Annual AHA Philadelphia Heart Ball

Dr. Houser was given the Edward S. Cooper M.D. Award at the American Heart Association (AHA) Philadelphia Heart Ball on February 9, 2019. The award honors "a physician, researcher or medical professional whose many outstanding contributions to the Philadelphia community exemplify the best of humankind." Dr. Houser has a long association with the AHA, including a term as president from 2016-2017.

Watch this Video Honoring Dr. Houser

Education, Training & Credentials

Educational Background

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Cardiology, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
  • PhD, Physiology, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
  • BA, Biology and Chemistry, Eastern College

Digital Bibliography

View PubMed Publications