Ali Nsair, MD

Ali Nsair, M.D. 

Director, Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program; Assistant Professor-in-Residence, Cardiology

Bio

Ali Nsair, M.D., is a physician-scientist who strives to develop stem-cell based therapies to regenerate the heart following heart disease and heart attack. His research focuses on studying cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) – stem cells that create heart cells – that are found in the human fetal heart. He hopes that a better understanding of how CPCs develop will enable him and other researchers to recreate this process to generate CPCs from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). These patient specific iPSC-derived CPCs grown in the lab could be transplanted in diseased human hearts to regenerate tissue that has been lost or damaged.  

In the clinic, Nsair treats patients with advanced heart disease and patients undergoing heart transplants and other procedures that aim to restore heart function. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and the western world; the survival rate of patients with heart failure is just 50 percent five years after diagnosis. Heart transplantation is an effective treatment for patients with advanced heart failure, but due to a shortage of donors and the risk of serious complications, including immunosuppression, this is a limited option. Nsair aims to reduce or eliminate the need for heart transplants by developing treatments that regenerate the heart using heart cells derived from patients' own induced pluripotent stem cells.

Nsair studies embryonic CPCs and the microenvironment, or 'niche,' that supports and surrounds the cells to understand their developmental evolution. In pre-clinical studies, his lab has identified and isolated CPC populations from differentiating human iPSCs. The team then demonstrated that these iPSC-derived CPCs can integrate into and regenerate heart tissue following heart attack in animal models. They are now focused on translating this work to the clinic. The Nsair lab is also examining the control networks that regulate the CPCs' niche in order to inform the development of methods to generate large amounts of iPSC-derived CPCs in the lab for use in regenerative therapies.

Nsair earned a medical degree from the University of Alberta, where he also completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiovascular medicine. He subsequently completed fellowships in cardiovascular disease and stem cell biology and advanced heart failure and transplantation at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

Publications

Honors & Affiliations

Affiliations

  • Advisory Board, International Society of Cardiovascular Translational Research
  • Fellow, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • American Medical Association
  • International Society for Cardiovascular Translational Research
  • International Society for Cell Therapy
  • American Heart Association
  • International Society of Stem Cell Research
  • American College of Cardiology

Funding

Nsair's work is funded by Mesoblast, Inc. and the St. Jude Medical Cardiac Rhythm Management Division.