Advisory Board

Dr. Harald C. Ott

The PhysOrg article Researchers create beating heart in laboratory said

University of Minnesota researchers have created a beating heart in the laboratory. By using a process called whole organ decellularization, scientists from the University of Minnesota Center for Cardiovascular Repair grew functioning heart tissue by taking dead rat and pig hearts and reseeding them with a mixture of live cells.
“We just took nature’s own building blocks to build a new organ,” said Harald C. Ott, M.D., co-investigator of the study and a former research associate in the center for cardiovascular repair, who now works at Massachusetts General Hospital. “When we saw the first contractions we were speechless.”
Researchers are optimistic this discovery could help increase the donor organ pool.

Harald C. Ott, M.D. is at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and his interests are cardiac cell therapy and cardiac tissue engineering.
Harald authored and coauthored several research publications in the field of cardiac repair/regeneration and robotic surgery. He received multiple scientific awards, among those the Young Investigator Award of the European Association of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery in 2003, and the Theodor-Billroth Award of the Austrian Society of Surgery in 2005.
In 2004, he introduced the concept of combined cell therapy to cellular cardiomyoplasty (Combined transplantation of skeletal myoblasts and bone marrow stem cells for myocardial repair in rats) and worked on a better understanding of the mechanism underlying cardiac cell therapy (On the fate of skeletal myoblasts in a cardiac environment: down-regulation of voltage-gated ion channels).
In 2005, his focus began to shift to alternative cell types such as cardiac derived stem cells (Cell therapy for heart failure – muscle, bone marrow, blood, and cardiac-derived stem cells, From cardiac repair to cardiac regeneration – ready to translate?, and The adult human heart as a source for stem cells: repair strategies with embryonic-like progenitor cells), and to cardiac tissue engineering (Perfusion-decellularized matrix: using nature’s platform to engineer a bioartificial heart).
In a more translational focus, Harald worked on improving methods for cell delivery (Intramyocardial microdepot injection increases the efficacy of skeletal myoblast transplantation) and robotic surgery in an attempt to provide less invasive surgical techniques (Robotic-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (RATS) for Benign and Malignant Esophageal Tumors and Robotic minimally invasive cell transplantation for heart failure).
As cardiac and vascular disease have many overlapping pathways, atherosclerosis has always been another research focus, mostly in collaborative efforts (Perivascular application of C-type natriuretic peptide attenuates neointimal hyperplasia in experimental vein grafts, Rapamycin treatment is associated with an increased apoptosis rate in experimental vein grafts, and Sex-dependent attenuation of plaque growth after treatment with bone marrow mononuclear cells). Since 2004, Harald has been consulting scientist for the 6th and 7th Framework Program, EU and since 2007 for the European Research Council, ERC.
Harald earned his M.D. at the University of Innsbruck, Medical School, Austria in 2000. He began his CT Residency at the University of Innsbruck, Department of Surgery in 2004. At the same time, he began to focus on cardiac repair and regeneration. He did basic research at the University of Minnesota, Center for Cardiovascular Repair from 2004 to 2006, and began his General Surgical Residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School in 2006.