3MT 2023 Finalist  Mitchell Wagner

Mitchell Wagner

Surgery, College of Health Sciences

Heart in a Box: Where Are the Other Organs?

Introduce yourself…

I'm a first year Master of Science student in Experimental Surgery. I did my degree here at the University of Alberta in Immunology and Infection (Hons).

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

There are thousands that currently suffer from heart failure, which is best treated by heart transplant. However, we don't have enough donor hearts to transplant, in part because of limited out of body preservation time between the donor and recipient. I am researching how we can better preserve donor hearts for heart transplantation while they are outside the body. My project hopes to artificially mimic the support that your kidney provides, in order to allow donor hearts to last longer while they're outside the body. This will result in more heart transplantations being feasible.

How did presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help explain your research to the public?

Presenting in such a short amount of time really forced me to be concise and get at the heart of what my research hopes to accomplish, and ensure that my language was accessible. I believe that getting people who are outside of your field of expertise to listen and understand what you are trying to accomplish and how your research will benefit the public is a very important part of being a scientist.

What inspires you to do research?

Apart from my curious mind, I was born with congenital heart defects. Luckily, I had surgery to repair them early in my life. There are many others who also suffer from these defects that will have to receive a heart transplant. Knowing that my research can potentially positively impact those who face similar defects to the ones I was born with inspires me to work hard and persevere when I am faced with a challenge. It is my hope that my work can one day contribute to a better quality of life for those suffering from cardiac issues.

What are three key words important to your 3MT?

Heart transplantation, Organ interactions, Out-of-body organ preservation

How does your research impact local, provincial, or global communities at large?

Heart failure and treatment via heart transplant is a ubiquitous procedure that is carried out globally. By enabling more heart transplants to occur, local, provincial, and even global communities can harness this important study to allow more patients to be treated.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

I would dedicate this research to the thousands of people that undergo heart transplants every year around the globe. I would also like to thank my supervisor, lab mates, friends and family for supporting me in my studies and professional development.

3MT Image Description: The heart as it looks on the machine, which has arrows which show an interaction with the hemofilter, a red and blue apparatus. There is a small thought bubble from the hemofilter with a picture of a human kidney inside of it.

Watch Mitchell's Three Minute Thesis