Field, recently named a Distinguished Professor, is helping broken hearts re-grow
Loren Field, PhD, says that the underlying philosophy that drives his career is the idea that science gives its practitioners a kind of immortality.
“I could be dead for 200 years, and someone else could repeat my work and get the same results. If that happens, I’ve done my job,” he says.
Field, who has been at IU since 1990, is a Professor of Medicine; Professor of Anatomy, Cell Biology & Physiology; and Professor of Pediatrics. In February, he was one of 15 IU faculty members named Distinguished Professor, the university’s highest academic appointment.
Field’s research focuses on regenerative growth of the heart muscle—research that may not make people immortal, but certainly could extend their lives.
“Most forms of heart disease or heart injury cause some form of cell death,” he says. “We develop strategies to increase the number of cardiac myocytes, or heart cells, in these circumstances, which improves cardiac function.”
The investigators in Field’s lab take two approaches to this: transplanting donor myocytes, or coaxing existing myocytes to proliferate. Their work has significant implications for people who have heart injuries due to myocardial infarction or disease, as well as for people with congenital heart defects.
Over the last 30 years at IU, Field says he has had plenty of opportunities to leave, but has always chosen to stay.
“It’s a huge honor to come to work in this lab with my colleagues,” he says. “I’m my happiest at the bench.”