About The Prosser Lab

Our lab interrogates the forces of the heart – the mechanisms that control how a heart cell generates force, and how force itself feeds back to regulate cell function and form. We leverage cellular biophysics, super-resolution imaging, bioengineering and cardiology to tackle the fundamental challenges of the mechanobiology of the heart. Our goal is to provide transformative insight into how the heart beats, and to inform new therapies for the treatment of heart disease.

Please have a look around, and check out the “Research” tab and our Instagram page (@ProsserLab) for more details on current projects.

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News and Upcoming Events

Press for Chen et al., Nature Med 2018

Jun 29

An excellent, concise highlight in Nature Reviews Cardiology:


A longer piece by Medical News Today:



Prosser lab work published in Nature Medicine!

Jun 12

Christina’s paper on microtubules in human heart failure was published online in Nature Medicine.  We found that suppressing stable microtubules can boost contractile function of heart cells from patients with heart failure – check it out: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-018-0046-2

Ben wins AHA Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award

Ben was honored with the Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award from the American Heart Association.  Read all about it here:  https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2017/july/cardiology-researcher-wins-aha-outstanding-early-career-investigator-award

Welcome Alex S!

Welcome Alex S., aka Xander/Ax, to the Prosser lab!  Read more about Alex and our other lab members under the “People” tab.

Congrats Matt and Pat!

Big congrats to Matt C. and Pat R., who were awarded post-doctoral fellowships from the American Heart Association and National Institutes of Health!

Tugging on the heart strings this Valentine's day

Feb 14

Who knew microtubules could be romantic?  The HHMI celebrates cool science and heart puns.  http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/tugging-cellular-heartstrings


Biophysics in NOLA

Feb 11 - Feb 15

Join us at Biophysics in New Orleans, where Matt Caporizzo, Christina Chen, Julie Heffler, and Pat Robison will all be presenting their work.  And eating beignets!

Conferences Galore

Jun 01 - Jun 30

The Prosser lab has a busy June discussing their work. Ben was lucky enough to present the lab’s work to two very different but fantastic audiences at the EMBO Microtubule Symposium in Heidelberg and at the Cardiac Gordon Research Conference in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Pat and Christina presented at the Department of Physiology retreat right here in Philly.
Ben will also be presenting at the New Directions in Muscle Meeting in Florida later this month. Then maybe we’ll get back to work!

NIH Director blog on microtubule buckling in the heart

Our work was selected by NIH Director Francis Collins for his blog! Check out the story here, and look under the research tab for more in the popular press.

Media Coverage of Robison et al., Science 2016

Apr 23

STATnews interviewed Dr. Prosser regarding our recent study on microtubule buckling in the heart. Check out the story here: http://us11.campaign-archive2.com/?u=f8609630ae206654824f897b6&id=beb156bae0

Science Daily also covered the story. Read about it here! https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421145756.htm

Prosser Lab study published in Science!

Apr 22

Our labs study on microtubule buckling in the heart was published in this weeks edition of Science. Congrats to Pat and all other authors involved. Read the study here: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6284/aaf0659

Biophysical Society Meeting

Feb 27 - Mar 01

Biophysical Society Meeting – the lab will be traveling to Los Angeles, California for the annual Biophysical Society Meeting, where Drs. Prosser, Robison, and Caporizzo will all be presenting the labs work in different symposia and poster presentations.

PMI Symposium

Jan 11

We’re excited for the annual Pennsylvania Muscle Institute symposium, which will focus on recent advances in optical imaging and light microscopy (one of our favorite topics!). Xiaowei Zhuang, the driving force behind STORM microscopy, will deliver this years honorary lecture.

Trip to Baylor College of Medicine

Nov 23 - Nov 24

Dr. Prosser will present our work and meet with the faculty at Baylor, leaders in the study of striated muscle disease.

Visit to UC Davis

Oct 19 - Oct 21

Dr. Prosser will present our work and meet with faculty in the departments of Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of California Davis, a stronghold of cardiac signaling research.

Recent Research

Suppressing detyrosinated microtubules improves contractility in human heart failure

Work by Chen et al. demonstrates two key findings: 1) that there is a proliferation and stabilization of microtubules and intermediate filaments in human heart failure, regardless of disease origin. 2) that suppressing detyrosinated microtubules with either genetic or pharmacologic approaches can rescue the contractile function of heart cells from patients with heart failure, about 40-50% back to "normal." This work highlights detyrosinated microtubules as a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of heart failure.
Click on the link to read the paper, or check out the press release here : http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/695927/

Detyrosinated microtubules buckle and bear load in contracting cardiomyocytes

Our work, in collaboration with folks in Engineering (Caporizzo, Shenoy groups) and Medicine (Margulies), shows that microtubules buckle and bear compressive load in a beating cardiomyocyte. The ability of microtubules to function as molecular shock absorbers is graded by "detyrosination", a post-translational modification of tubulin. Further, we found that detyrosination is increased in cardiomyopathy and correlates with functional decline in certain patient populations. The Prosser lab is actively investigating the efficacy of targeting detyrosination therapeutically to improve cardiac function in heart disease. Patrick Robison is the first author on this manuscript published in Science (a full text link is provided below).

Press for microtubule buckling in the heart!

Our work on microtubules as molecular "struts" or "shock absorbers" in the beating heart has been featured in the popular press, and in the blog of NIH director Francis Collins. Check out a sampling below:
NIH director blog: https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2016/05/03/a-look-inside-a-beating-heart-cell/
Gizmodo: http://gizmodo.com/microscopic-tubes-inside-beating-heart-cells-work-like-1774530830
Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-rare-view-inside-a-beating-heart-cell-2016-5

Super-Resolution View of Cardiac Microtubules

Current work in the lab is focused on the microtubule cytoskeleton and how it regulates the mechanobiology of heart cells. We are using novel techniques to manipulate and measure cell stress while using advanced imaging to examine how these stresses influence intracellular processes.

Image: STED super-resolution microscopy reveals intricate details of microtubule networks in the heart.