Third Mellon Scholar Appointed to The Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

September 17, 2014

PITTSBURGH, PA - September 17, 2014 - Bernhard Kühn, M.D., a physician-scientist whose research focuses on heart failure, has been named a Scholar within the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research and Director of Research for the Division of Cardiology at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Dr. Kühn is the third physician-scientist in the Mellon Scholars Program, which enables promising researchers in the early stages of their careers to pursue potential breakthrough research projects in biomedicine.

Dr. Kühn is a board-certified and practicing pediatric cardiologist whose research focuses on regenerative therapies for the heart. The long-term objective of his research is to provide novel approaches and molecular targets for the treatment of heart failure, primarily by studying the mechanisms of growth and regeneration of the myocardium, the muscle tissue of the heart.

"The recruitment of Dr. Kühn will bring in one of the leading researchers in heart regeneration to further explore heart cell growth and to give hope to advancing  treatments for heart failure, said Jay Kolls, M.D., director. "He will be an outstanding addition to the Mellon Scholar Program to continually increase our understanding of the causes and treatment of pediatric diseases."

Dr. Kühn, also associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, earned his medical and doctoral degrees from Freie Universität Berlin in Germany. He completed his post-doctoral fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital where he then established an independent research lab in 2005.

In a landmark paper published in the highly prestigious journal Cell, Dr. Kühn showed that heart muscle cells, previously thought to be incapable of proliferating, could be induced to divide with the growth factor neuregulin1. This research has opened up the possibility of using this growth factor to stimulate heart regeneration. In a follow up study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Kühn lab showed that in humans, heart muscle cell proliferation is a mechanism of heart growth in infants and children. Together, these two papers provide the foundation for administering the growth factor to stimulate heart regeneration in pediatric patients with heart failure.

Scholars are selected on the basis of work that is highly innovative, delivering new expertise to the biomedical research community; likely to lead to major breakthroughs; and capable of having a long-lasting impact on the practice of medicine.

Stephen Maricich, M.D., Ph.D., and Timothy Sanders, M.D., Ph.D., were the first two physician-scientists recruited for the Mellon Scholars Program.

Established through a groundbreaking gift from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Institute is an incubator for research that challenges conventional wisdom and can lead to paradigm shifts in pediatric medicine. This kind of high-risk, high-impact investigation is not typically funded through government or conventional sources, placing Children's Hospital in a unique realm of pediatric research centers. Dr. Kolls' goal is to recruit a total of five scholars.

Located within the John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center on Children's main campus, the Institute's faculty and programs are a part of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. For more information on The Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research, please visit

Andrea Kunicky, 412-692-6254,  

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919,