University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute
University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute
T32 Research Training Program in Cardiovascular Biology and Medicine
This is an exciting and dynamic time in which molecular biology and genomic technologies have
transformed cardiovascular research. The primary purpose of this training grant is to provide rigorous
research training for cardiology fellows and PhD scientists in cardiovascular biology and medicine
with the ultimate goal of preparing trainees as independent clinician-scientists and investigators.
The specific rationale underlying the training program is that state-of-the-art cardiovascular research
(basic, translational and patient-oriented) requires a strong foundation in molecular and cellular
biology and multi-departmental collaborations. In recognition of this principle, the University of
Pennsylvania has recently established the Penn Cardiovascular Institute to promote multi-disciplinary
cardiovascular research programs and education across schools, institutes and departments.
The Penn Cardiovascular Institute is directed by Dr. Michael Parmacek, Program Director and
Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Professor H. Lee Sweeney, Chairman of Physiology,
will continue to serve as Co-P.I. of the training program. Together, they coordinate a multi-disciplinary
group of training faculty that include well-funded and established investigators from the Departments
of Medicine, Surgery, Physiology, Pharmacology, Cell and Developmental Biology, Genetics, the
Institute for Medicine and Engineering and the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
Pre- and postdoctoral Trainees for this program will be selected from the Penn Cardiology Fellowship
Training program, the Penn Combined Degree Program (MD/PhD) and the Biomedical Graduate
Studies (BGS) program. In addition, a strategy to attract individuals from under-represented minorities
has been implemented.
Trainees will have full access to the newly established University of Pennsylvania Molecular
Cardiology Center and Laboratories for Experimental Electrophysiology and Interventional Cardiology.
The core training will be a well-supervised research preceptorship lasting a minimum of two years.
This training will be supplemented by graduate school classes, lectures, seminars, and specific
courses in the ethical conduct of research. The training program has implemented a formal mentoring
program and established an Oversight Committee to monitor trainee progress. The inter-departmental
structure of this training program provides potential for an unparalleled training environment in
cardiovascular research and is aligned directly with the NIH Roadmap.
Resources and Environment
Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania is home of the oldest medical school in
the country. It is a major research institution with a distinguished history in biomedical research and
education. It has an externally funded research budget in excess of $487 million and currently ranks
third in the nation in NIH support. Practically all of its components are located in contiguous space on
a single urban campus. The School of Art and Sciences, in which the Biology, Chemistry, Physics and
Mathematics departments are located, the Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dental
Medicine, and Engineering are all present, facilitating interaction among these schools. In addition,
the Wistar Institute, an affiliated institution with strong research programs in virology, immunology,
molecular biology, molecular oncology, and vascular biology is located on the University campus.
During the last decade, the University of Pennsylvania Medical School dramatically expanded
facilities devoted to basic science and molecular medicine. Over 1,000,000 new square feet of state-
of-the-art basic and translational research facilities were built on the Penn medical campus including
the Clinical Research Building (CRB), Stellar-Chance Building, and the Biomedical Research Building
(BRB) II/III which currently houses the Molecular Cardiology Center.
In addition to traditional departments, the University houses Centers and Institutes dedicated to
certain research areas, whose members hold primary appointments in established departments. This
structure fosters collaborations that broach traditional departmental barriers. These include the newly
established University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) whose mission is to promote
cardiovascular research across Schools, Departments and Divisions.
This newly created Penn Cardiovascular Institute is directed by Dr. Michael S. Parmacek, P.I. of this
training grant. The Pennsylvania Muscle Institute, supported by a NIH Program Project that spans
several Universities and two continents; its emphasis is on advanced molecular/biophysical research
in muscle structure and function. Dr. Lee Sweeney is Associate Director of the Muscle Institute and
serves as Co-Director of this grant. The Institute for Medicine and Engineering (IME), directed by
Professor Peter Davies, brings together biomedical scientists and engineers in a collaborative
environment focused upon understanding and treatment of various disease states. The Institute for
Translational Medicine and Therapeutics and the GCRC, directed by Dr. Garret FitzGerald, a trainer
on this grant, were created to translate advances in basic science into novel therapies. The Center for
Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics is internationally recognized for studies in health services
research including outcomes, bio-informatics, pharmaco-epidemiology and health economics.
The University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute
The Penn CVI was established to promote multi-disciplinary translational cardiovascular research
across schools, institutes, centers, departments and divisions at the University of Pennsylvania. The
Penn CVI is an umbrella structure over all cardiovascular research and clinical programs on the Penn
medical campus. In FY03, NIH support to cardiovascular research programs at Penn exceeded
$54,000,000 including three SCCORs and thirteen PO1s focused on cardiovascular research. The
CVI will leverage this strong foundation in cardiovascular research by promoting collaboration across
entities, providing additional infrastructure for translational research, and perhaps most importantly,
identifying and breaking down barriers between basic scientists, translational researchers, clinical
investigators and faculty members involved primarily in delivery of patient care. The CVI has been
organized into multi-disciplinary working groups in strategic areas including:
atherosclerosis/interventional cardiology, heart failure/myocyte biology, cardiovascular
development/congenital heart disease, cardiac electrophysiology/channel biology and molecular
All trainers that participate in this program are members of the Penn CVI. A critical component of the
newly established Penn CVI is that faculty members performing cardiovascular research will be
geographically aggregated (whenever possible) into adjacent spaces that will serve as cardiovascular
centers-of-excellence on the Penn medical campus. As described under Background, faculty
members performing molecular and translational cardiovascular and metabolic research and core
laboratories supporting these functions (see below) will occupy approximately 75% (4 floors) of the
Cardiovascular research programs and collaborations located outside these spaces also fall under
the Penn CVI umbrella including on-going collaborations with investigators in the Departments of
Genetics and Cell and Developmental Biology, the Institute for Medicine and Engineering and the
Abramson Cancer Institute. Each of these institutes and departments has a strong focus in basic
and/or translational cardiovascular research and will provide trainers for this program.
Key components available to the trainees on this grant include:
The Molecular Cardiology Center
Over the past five years, many trainees have chosen mentors housed in the Penn Molecular
Cardiology Center. This new modular space is devoted to molecular and cellular Cardiology research.
Dr. Jonathan A. Epstein, is the Director of the Molecular Cardiology program and serves as a trainer
on this grant. This 16,000 square foot facility is home to eight clinician-scientists within the Division of
Cardiovascular Medicine and has bench space for up to 60 trainees. The Molecular Cardiology
Center includes integrated Transgenic/ES cell, Molecular Biology and Molecular Imaging and Cell
Culture Core Facilities with dedicated support personnel. The laboratories are all well equipped with
state-of-the-art molecular biology equipment. Of note, in addition to performing technical service
functions for investigators and trainees in the core laboratories, the Core Laboratories also offer
quarterly technical training courses in areas related to trainees research. As such, trainees generating
transgenic mice and/or genetically engineered mice are taught the technical aspects of micro-injection
and blastocyst implantation by experts in these areas.
Specialized equipment in the Molecular Cardiology Center includes:
two micro-injection stations for oocyte injection and production of aggregation chimeras, two cryostat,
an automated slide processing center, a Molecular Dynamics PhosphorImager, a Zeiss Axiophot and
a Nikon microscope with darkfield, fluorescent and Numarski optics, an ELISA reader, beta and
gamma counters, multiple light and dissecting microscopes with teaching heads, ultra-centrifuges, low
and high speed centrifuges, PCR machines, a digital image acquisition center, several
spectrophotometers, multiple tissue culture hoods and incubators, a dark room and X-ray developer,
a cold room and several autoclaves. In addition to the office space and secretarial support space, the
Molecular Cardiology Center contains a central conference room/library (seating capacity
approximately 50) that is used for lab meetings, as well as the weekly research seminar series,
journal club and outside speaker series. A separate space has been set aside for students and post-
doctoral fellows. One of the major purposes of this room is to foster collaborative interactions between
students and fellows from different laboratories.
Molecular Cardiology Center activities relevant to this training program include a weekly Molecular
Cardiology seminars presented by our faculty, post-doctoral fellows and pre-doctoral students, a
weekly journal club, and a monthly post-doctoral fellow research symposium. Thus, the Molecular
Cardiology Center provides an interdepartmental and interdivisional structure for coordinating
molecular and cellular research in cardiovascular biology at the University of Pennsylvania.
B. School of Medicine Resources
The primary services of the Cell Center include consultation regarding establishment and use of cell
lines and strategies for production of monoclonal antibodies; training in basic sterile and tissue culture
techniques, hybridoma and monoclonal antibody production, immunological assays, preparation of
special media; mycoplasma and endotoxin testing; liquid nitrogen storage; and stockroom services.
The latter includes over 850 discounted molecular biology and tissue culture products from 28
DNA Sequencing Facility:
The DNA Sequencing Facility uses state-of-the-art instrumentation (ABI 377), techniques and data
analysis tools to analyze the nucleotide sequence of DNA fragments. Extended sequences are
determined by the method of primer walking routinely yielding sequences of 500 nt/run.
Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Facility:
The Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Facility provides a diverse, technically sophisticated cell sorting
(Becton-Dickinson FACStarPLUS, Becton-Dickinson FACSort and Becton-Dickinson FACSCAN) and
analysis service to investigators, including operator-dependent services, access to state-of-the-art
instruments on a 24 hour/day basis and technical advice.
Protein Chemistry Facility:
The protein chemistry laboratory offers services that include peptide synthesis, peptide purification,
peptide coupling to proteins, protein purification, tryptic peptic preparation, peptide modification,
capillary electrophoresis, protein/peptide microsequencing (ABI 473A gas phase sequencer) and
mass spectrometric analysis (Fisons Instruments VG Quattro tandem quadrupole and VG Tof Spec
Genomics/Microarray Core Facility:
The Genomics/Microarray Core Facility offers technical services including preparation, hybridization
and interpretation of Affymetrix microarray chips and biostatistical support related to experimental
design and interpretation. Software is available including the SAM package to users of the facility
C. Translational Research Facilities
The Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT):
This ITMAT is located immediately adjacent to the Molecular Cardiology Center facilitating
collaborations between the Molecular Cardiology and ITMAT faculty members. Trainees in the
basic/translational research track will have access to both faculties and shared core laboratories and
move easily between these laboratories. The Center fosters translational and clinical research
designed to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention by the study of human pathophysiology,
to elucidate the mechanisms of drug action and the factors that contribute to differences among
individuals in their responses to drugs. Current research themes include signal transduction
mechanisms, the molecular and cellular biology of lipid mediators, and oxidant injury to the
cardiovascular system. Center resources include a mass spectrometry and bioanalytical facility, a
clinical investigational unit, a DNA Genomics Unit. The ITMAT is home to Genetics/Genomics and
Proteomics Core Facilities.
The Institute for Medicine and Engineering (IME):
The IME is a supra-departmental interschool Institute established in 1996 with resource allocation
from both schools. Its mission is to stimulate fundamental research at the interface between medicine
and the engineering/computational sciences that will lead to innovative applications in biomedical
research and clinical practice. The IME has recruited 11 faculty investigators skilled in biomedical
engineering into departments of both schools, provided specialized space and facilities for the
intellectual pursuit of interdisciplinary research, and attracted outstanding predoctoral and
postdoctoral trainees into molecular and cellular biomedical engineering. In FY04, these faculty
members received $11,200,000 in total NIH support. Membership in the IME currently stands at 91
faculty extending throughout the university. The Institute is centered in the Vagelos Research
laboratories (13,000 nsf), with additional laboratory space in the Medical and Engineering complexes
adjacent (approx 6,000 nsf). IME members represent a true interdisciplinary thrust by virtue of
expertise in quantitative biology, biological aspects of engineering and clinical medicine. Research
thrusts are Cardiovascular, Cell and Tissue Engineering, and Neuroengineering. Penns Center for
Bioinformatics and a Center for Bioactive Materials in Tissue Engineering are within the administrative
structure of the IME.
Heart Failure and Transplantation Research Center:
The Heart Failure Translational Research Center is currently located in approximately 7,000 square
feet of space that will be relocated adjacent to the Molecular Cardiology Center in the Penn CVI later
this year. This space includes a Cardiac Myocyte Function Core Laboratory and a Mouse
Cardiovascular Physiology Core Laboratory. It also includes Heart Failure and Transplantation
database and human sample repository. Specialized equipment includes a primary cardiac myocyte
isolation facility, a working-heart preparation, a muscle-strip biophysical assessment station, two
Nikon fluorescent microscopes, and a robotic microarray facility.
Experimental Interventional Cardiology and Electrophysiology Laboratories:
In order to promote translation of basic cardiovascular research to the clinical arena, the Division of
Cardiovascular Medicine has recently received approval to build an Experimental Interventional
Cardiology Laboratory. This GLP-certified large animal catheterization laboratory is located adjacent
to the large animal veterinary facility in the BRBII/III building. It is anticipated that some basic
research that occurs in the Molecular Cardiology center will translate into pre-clinical testing in the
Experimental Interventional Cardiology Laboratory. This laboratory will also benefit cardiology fellows
who wish to pursue careers in academic medicine. In addition, the Division recently opened an
Experimental Electrophysiology Laboratory in the Medical Science Research Laboratory building. This
7,000 square foot laboratory houses two electrophysiology suites and includes electroanatomic
mapping systems, radiofrequency catheter ablation systems and intracardiac ultrasound equipment.
D. Patient-Oriented Research Facilities
The General Clinical Research Center (GCRC):
The GCRC is a multi-disciplinary research facility funded by the NIH under the direction of Dr. Garret
FitzGerald (trainer and member of the Oversight Committee). It is centrally located within the
University of Pennsylvania Medical Center on the first floor of the Dulles Building in the Hospital of the
University of Pennsylvania. The GCRC occupies newly renovated quarters that include technologies
for the treatment of critically ill patients, as well as for the precise conduct of research. The GCRC has
an experienced nursing staff dedicated to providing the clinical service and to making assessments
for clinical research protocols. Included within the 5000 square foot GCRC are the following
resources: 8 inpatient beds with both negative and positive air-flow options, separate outpatient
facilities with 5 beds, HP cardiac monitoring including continuous oxygen saturation capability,
computing facilities. Trainees have full access to the GCRC.
The Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB):
The Center for Epidemiology and Biostatistics was established in 1993 on the University of
Pennsylvania Medical campus. Dr. Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH, Professor of Biostatistics and
Epidemiology, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology is the Center Director. Dr. Steven Kimmel,
Associate Professor Department of Medicine (Cardiology) is Director of Cardiovascular Research at
the CCEB. The CCEB has 33 primary faculty members and an additional 28 faculty members have
secondary appointments. The annual research budget of the CCEB exceeds $31 million. The CCEB
is an inter-disciplinary and interdepartmental program. Its mission is to improve the health of the
public by linking epidemiology, biostatistics, and clinical medicine, bringing epidemiologic research
methodology to clinical medicine. The educational programs offered by the Center for Clinical
Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB) are designed for health care professionals and respond to the
individual needs of the trainees. These programs include a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology
degree program (M.S.C.E.), a PhD degree program in Epidemiology, M.S. and PhD programs in
Biostatistics, and combined M.D./M.S.C.E. and M.D./PhD degree programs.
Cardiology at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
The clinical facilities of the Cardiovascular Division are located at the Hospital of the University of
Pennsylvania. The outpatient practices and the Noninvasive Cardiac Imaging center, that includes
echocardiography, exercise testing, and nuclear cardiology, is housed in the Rhoads Pavilion. The
Heart Failure and Transplantation Ambulatory Care Center, included Cardiac Biopsy Suite, is
currently located in the Penn Tower Building. This facility was designed to meet the needs of heart
failure and transplantation patients and includes patient exam rooms, on-site V02 exercise testing,
and laboratory services. It is also home to Heart Failure research which includes dedicated research
nurses, computer databases and a DNA bank.
The outpatient Cardiology practices including the Heart Failure Center will be relocated into the
Cardiovascular Institute in the Center for Advanced Medicine (CAM) which is currently under
construction. The Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging facility is located immediately adjacent to the
noninvasive cardiology imaging center. Newly constructed state-of-the-art digital cardiac
catheterization and electrophysiology laboratories are located on the 8th floor of the Founders
Pavilion, immediately adjacent to the Coronary Care Unit.
Each EP lab contains integrated equipment and software for electroanatomic/NOGA mapping and
intra-cardiac echocardiography. Penn is a beta testing site for Siemens Inc. which provides us with
pre-release versions of imaging equipment including Cath Labs, EP Labs, cardiac CT and cardiac
MRI machines. A 30-bed inpatient Heart Failure Unit and Intermediate Cardiac Care Unit opened in
July of 2004. This state-of-the-art facility includes dedicated spaces for clinical research nurses and
access to all hospital databases. In addition, Penn cardiology faculty members staff the Philadelphia
VA Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital. University of Pennsylvania Health System-wide computer
databases have been developed to facilitate clinical research at each site.
Approximately, 40% of the over 1295 faculty in the School of Medicine hold appointments in Graduate
Groups. In addition, many faculty members in the School of Arts and Sciences and in the School of
Engineering and Applied Science are engaged in biomedical education and research. The graduate
programs in biology and bioengineering are closely affiliated with the biomedical science training
programs in the health professional schools.
Over 125 faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania describe their primary research area in
the areas of cardiovascular biology or medicine. There are 65 full-time faculty members in the
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and there are an additional 12 full-time faculty members who
hold joint appointments in basic science departments.
The Cardiovascular Medicine Division is divided into nine Subsections:
Heart Failure/Transplantation, Interventional Cardiology, Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular
Imaging (including MRI, echocardiography, PET imaging, nuclear cardiology), Vascular Medicine,
Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Preventive and Clinical Cardiology, Molecular Cardiology and Health
An integral component of each clinical section is an active program of translational and patient-
oriented research. Several of the clinical faculty members hold joint appointments in the Center for
Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The Molecular Cardiology section consists of eight faculty members
whose research interests include development of the heart and vascular system, vascular
biology/atherosclerosis, thrombosis and hemostasis, cardiac muscle function, receptor biology, and
cellular electrophysiology. Faculty members with interests in basic, translational and patient-oriented
research have served as mentors on this training grant. A weekly series of state-of-the-art lectures on
basic and clinical cardiovascular research, serves as a vehicle to promote collaborations between the
basic and clinical faculty members.
The proposed training faculty includes scientists from several parts of the University of Pennsylvania
and two distinguished research institutions that have close affiliations with the University. Faculty from
the schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Engineering and Applied Science and
Arts and Sciences play active roles in the presentation of course work and supervision of research in
the laboratory. Total research space in the biomedical sciences includes over 875,000 nsf in the
Medical School, in addition to large areas elsewhere in the Medical Center and University. As
discussed above, the Molecular Cardiology Center is housed in 16,000 nsf of laboratory space and
includes integrated Transgenic/ES cell, Molecular Biology and Molecular Imaging Core Laboratories.
The translational heart failure program and mouse electrophysiology laboratory are located in
approximately 7,000 nsf of laboratory space. The Experimental Interventional Cardiology and
Electrophysiology laboratories are located in an additional 8,000 nsf of space.
G. Special Facilities
The University as well as the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine have excellent research
libraries. There is on-line access to the internet, MEDLINE, OVID and all major biological databases
throughout the University including the laboratories within the new Molecular Cardiology Center.
Essential facilities also include several machine and electronic shops (Departments of Biochemistry
and Biophysics and Physiology); a Molecular Biology/Cell Center that provides molecular biology
reagents, cell culture media, monoclonal antibody facilities, DNA sequencing and plasmid
preparation. The Cancer Center houses a cell sorter, genomics core laboratory. The Center for
Biostatistics and Epidemiology provides assistance in study design, statistics and bio-informatics.
There are also core facilities in computing, magnetic resonance imaging, bio-imaging, high energy
laser spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy, NMR and a protein sequencing facility. All of these facilities
are available to trainers and trainees of this program.
H. Financial Commitment
The Cardiovascular Medicine fellowship training program is a four to six year training program, with
the first two years devoted to ACC-specified core clinical training in Cardiology. Some fellows elect to
spend one additional year obtaining subspecialty training in an area such as Cardiac
Electrophysiology, Interventional Cardiology or Noninvasive Imaging. This clinical subspecialty
training is also supported by the hospital. As described in the training program, fellows entering the
basic research track generally enter the training program at the beginning of their third year of
fellowship training and remain in the basic science training program for an additional 2-3 years.
This training is supported either through this T32 grant, an NRSA award, a K08 award or restricted
funds available to the Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine that have been set aside for
fellows in transition to faculty. Fellows, preparing for careers in translational research, may elect to
spend one year of subspecialty clinical training which is supported by hospital funds prior to formally
entering the research training program. As described above for those fellows entering the basic
research track, fellows entering the translational/POR track are supported either through this T32
award, an NRSA or a K23 grant. Some fellows interested in translational or patient oriented research
spend an additional one or two years obtaining advances training through formalized programs
offered through the Center for Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The Center for Clinical Epidemiology
has a separate training grant that funds fellows entering the MSCE program. This training grant does
not support fellows entering the MSCE program.
All fellows receive stipends consistent with the PGY scale of the NIH.The University of Pennsylvania
Medical School also has a large M.D./Ph.D combined degree program. The purpose of this program
is to provide extensive training in the basic sciences for future clinician scientists.
Combined degree students typically spend two years in Medical School which is complemented with
intensive training in basic science. Following a series of three laboratory rotations, M.D./PhD students
identify a mentor and propose a thesis. The typical M.D./PhD student spends 3-4 years in the
laboratory fulfilling the requirements for a PhD. Of note, institutional support for MD/PhD students
after their second year of laboratory experience is no longer available for MD/PhD students and the
research mentor must provide funds to cover the additional one to two years of training usually
required to complete a research thesis. This is followed by an additional one to two years of clinical
training required for M.D. certification. These students are supported by a training grant and the
sponsoring laboratory throughout their thesis studies.
Research Training Program
The recent revolution in cardiovascular science and medicine has emphasized the importance of
providing young MD and PhD cardiovascular scientists with state-of-the-art training in molecular and
cellular biology and genetics. The purpose of this application is to renew and expand a formal training
program for pre- and post-doctoral MD and PhD fellows in the area of modern cardiovascular biology.
Over the last decade, the application of modern molecular and genetic approaches to problems in
cardiovascular science has begun to yield novel and important insights into cardiovascular
development, biochemistry and physiology. Identification of new genes and signaling pathways and
the application of genomic technologies has provided important insights into the molecular basis of
many cardiovascular diseases. Because of this, emphasis has been placed on structuring our training
program to provide training and exposure in molecular and cellular biology as a foundation for
academic careers in basic, translational and patient-oriented research.
Our experience over the past five years has validated this central tenet as evidenced by the large
percentage of trainees who have launched successful careers as physician-scientists or who are in
the process of completing their training in preparation for faculty positions at leading medical schools
across the country.
Since the original submission of this application, it has become increasingly clear that areas
traditionally not considered relevant to cardiovascular biology are in fact critical to understanding
normal and abnormal cardiovascular physiology. For example, identification of novel cardiac myocyte-
specific transcription factors led to fundamental insights into cardiac development and the molecular
basis of some forms of congenital heart disease. The recent dramatic increase in the scope of
cardiovascular science has underscored the importance of providing young cardiovascular scientists
with training in excellent basic science laboratories with wide-ranging interests. In fact the multi-
disciplinary nature of training physician scientists that was incorporated in this training program four
years ago is entirely consistent with the principles underlying the NIH Roadmap.
This principle has been retained and expanded in this application by the inclusion of MD and PhD
preceptors from multiple disciplines and departments who share broadly defined collaborative
interests in problems relevant to cardiovascular biology. Moreover, as described below, since the
recent establishment of the University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute (CVI), directed by
Michael S. Parmacek, P.I., in many cases scientists in different departments will be located in
geographically contiguous spaces and they will share expanded core facilities. Thus, the trainees will
be exposed to multiple preceptors functioning in a collaborative environment; a model system for
integrating previously unrelated molecular and cellular approaches to problems in cardiovascular
One of the most difficult problems faced by all cardiovascular sciences training programs is devising
methods for training outstanding MD investigators who choose to follow academic research careers
following the completion of their training program. This difficulty stems in part from the long period of
training required for clinical cardiology, and in part from the salary differential between clinical and
research careers in cardiology.
The training program proposed in this application uses three approaches that address this problem.
First, because we believe that it is much easier to interest MDs in basic research early in their
careers, we are requesting two pre-doctoral training positions. These positions are especially
important because they represent a mechanism for attracting MD/PhD students to the cardiovascular
sciences, an area that has not been traditionally attractive to these students.
Secondly, as described in detail below, we will continue to identify and recruit fellows into the Penn
cardiology fellowship training program that have demonstrated previous interests and skills in basic
Finally, we will train MD and PhD fellows together in MD and PhD run laboratories in the newly
established Penn Cardiovascular Institute. This approach has the advantage of exposing relatively
inexperienced MD fellows to the research expertise and high research standards of their PhD
colleagues. In addition, it is felt that the PhD fellows will benefit from exposure to MD fellows with an
understanding of human cardiovascular physiology.
It should be emphasized that training grant support will not be limited to MDs in the adult cardiology
training program. MD fellows from other sections and departments are currently pursuing basic
cardiovascular research projects in the laboratories of several of the preceptors of this application.
Such fellows would be excellent candidates for funding by this training grant and such funding would
facilitate collaborative interactions involving investigators with interests and expertise from multiple
disciplines with relevance to cardiovascular biology. Given the challenges and opportunities that are
rapidly evolving in molecular medicine, there will be an increasing need for clinician scientists and
clinical investigators with extensive training in the basic sciences as well as PhDs interested in
applying basic science to clinical problems.
This training program is designed to meet these needs. We have learned that to prepare physician-
scientists for careers in translational research trainees must have an extensive foundation in basic
research. In recognition of this the proposed training program includes a basic research track and a
translational/patient-oriented research track. The basic research track will involve 3-4 years of
intensive training and basic/molecular research. In general, this pathway will involve training of MDs,
or MD/PhDs who have competed two years of a clinical cardiology fellowship program, or PhDs
interested in applying molecular biology to problems in molecular cardiology.
Over the course of the past five years, all trainees in this track have been mentored by physician-
scientists in the Molecular Cardiology Center, the Department of Physiology and/or the Department of
Pharmacology. The translational/patient-oriented research track is designed to provide a strong
foundation in molecular and cell biology upon which a career in patient-oriented cardiovascular
research can be established. In addition, this track offers the option of training in health services
research for those interested in genetic epidemiology, bio-informatics, outcomes and health
Because of the variety of pathways open to translational cardiovascular research each training
program will be tailored to the individual needs of the trainee (within the general requirements
described under Training Program). However, a fundamental tenet guiding this training is that
success in translational research requires a foundation in a focused area of basic science that may
then be applied. The proposed program differs from the existing program in several aspects.
First, as discussed above, we believe it is important to attract MD/PhD or PhD graduate students into
basic cardiovascular research at an early stage in their career. Accordingly, we are now requesting
support to fund two graduate students per year (MD/PhD or PhD) to support their thesis studies.
Second, we have expanded the multi-disciplinary nature of the training available to the trainees by
expanding the list of trainers in other departments. In this regard we are particularly excited about
incorporating trainers working in the important area of metabolic disease/diabetes in this application.
Table II is a listing of the number of faculty members in each unit and department and total numbers
of current pre-doctoral students and postdoctoral trainees in each unit or department is shown in
Table III. Third, this proposal incorporates the expanded infrastructure for cardiovascular research as
part of the newly established University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute (CVI).
The University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) was established in January 2005 to
promote multi-disciplinary cardiovascular research across schools, institutes, centers, departments
and divisions at the University of Pennsylvania. It is directed by Dr. Michael S. Parmacek, P.I. of this
The Penn CVI is an umbrella structure over all cardiovascular research and clinical programs on the
Penn medical campus. In FY03, NIH support to cardiovascular research programs at Penn exceeded
$54,000,000 including two SCCORs and thirteen PO1s focused primarily on cardiovascular science
The CVI will leverage this strong foundation in cardiovascular research by promoting collaboration
across entities, providing additional infrastructure for translational research, and perhaps most
importantly, identifying and breaking down barriers between basic scientists, translational
researchers, clinical investigators and faculty members involved primarily in delivery of patient care.
The CVI has been organized into multi-disciplinary working groups including basic, translational and
patient-oriented research faculty in strategic areas including: atherosclerosis/interventional cardiology,
heart failure/myocyte biology, cardiovascular development/congenital heart disease, cardiac
electrophysiology/channel biology and molecular imaging/bioengineering.
A critical component of the newly established Penn CVI is that faculty members performing
cardiovascular research will be geographically aggregated (whenever possible) into adjacent spaces
that will serve as cardiovascular centers-of-excellence on the Penn medical campus.
As described below, faculty members performing molecular and translational cardiovascular and
metabolic research and core laboratories supporting these functions will be relocated into adjacent
spaces in the Clinical Research Building (CRB). Cardiovascular research programs and
collaborations located outside these spaces also fall under the Penn CVI umbrella including on-going
collaborations with investigators in the Departments of Genetics and Cell and Developmental Biology,
the Institute for Medicine and Engineering and the Abramson Cancer Institute.
Each of these institutes and departments has a strong focus in basic and/or translational
cardiovascular research and will provide trainers for this program. Some of the key participating units
in the CVI and cardiovascular research programs that will be made available for trainees are
The Molecular Cardiology Center (Jonathan A. Epstein, M.D., Director)
The Penn Molecular Cardiology Center was established in 1999 to promote interdepartmental
collaborations and to facilitate scientific interactions among investigators with interests in the
molecular and cellular biology of the cardiovascular system. The program is currently directed by Dr.
Jonathan A. Epstein who is internationally recognized for his research in cardiovascular development.
The Molecular Cardiology Center is currently located in the Biomedical Research Building (BRB) II/III
building and will be relocated into the Penn Cardiovascular Institute in the CRB Building later this
The Molecular Cardiology Center is home to eight faculty members in the Cardiovascular Medicine
and CT Surgery Divisions. The Molecular Cardiology Center contains integrated Transgenic/ES cell,
Molecular Biology and Molecular Imaging and Mouse Physiology Core Laboratories that are partially
subsidized by the Penn Cardiovascular Institute and a restricted endowment for cardiovascular
research. In addition to the office space and secretarial support space, the Molecular Cardiology
Center contains a central conference room/library (seating capacity approximately 50) that is used for
lab meetings, as well as the weekly research seminar series, journal club and outside speaker series.
A separate space has been set aside for students and post-doctoral fellows. One of the major
purposes of this room is to foster collaborative interactions between students and fellows from
different laboratories. Molecular Cardiology Center activities relevant to this training program include a
weekly Molecular Cardiology seminar series for participating factulty, students and fellows, a weekly
journal club, and a monthly post-doctoral fellow research symposium. The Molecular Cardiology
Center and faculty members will serve as mentors for many trainees in the basic research track (see
Over the past five years, eight trainees funded by this training grant have been mentored by physician
scientists in the Molecular Cardiology program. As shown in Table IX, all of the graduates them have
obtained faculty positions at leading academic institutions across the country and/or have gone on to
obtain NIH and other extramural support.
The Pennsylvania Muscle Institute (PMI) (Yale E. Goldman, M.D., Ph.D, Director)
The Pennsylvania Muscle Institute was formed in 1973 as a cross‑disciplinary research institute to
promote collaborative research among muscle and cell motility researchers with common interests
and methodologies. Many important discoveries and development of significant new technologies
followed. H. Lee Sweeney, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of Physiology serves as the Co-P.I. of
this training program.
Today, the University of Pennsylvania is one of the outstanding centers for muscle and motility
research in the world. As the range of interests and expertise of the trainers listed on this grant will
attest, virtually all of the important areas of current research in muscle are covered by PMI faculty.
Graduate and postdoctoral research opportunities are provided in: 1) Cell Migration and Intracellular
Transport, 2) Mechanism and Regulation of Muscle Contraction, 3) Structure/Function Studies of
Molecular Motors, 4) Chromosome Segregation and Cell Division, 5) Gene Therapy and
Neuromuscular Disease, 6) Muscle Cell Development and Myofibril Assembly, and 6) Advanced
Technological Development. This provides the potential for an unparalleled training environment in
the area of cardiac muscle biology.
Five trainees funded by this grant have been mentored by faculty members based in the PMI and the
Department of Physiology (Table IX and X).
The Institute for Medicine and Engineering (IME) (Peter Davies, Ph.D., Director)
The IME is a supra-departmental interschool Institute established in 1996 with resource allocation
from both schools. Its mission is to stimulate fundamental research at the interface between medicine
and the engineering/computational sciences that will lead to innovative applications in biomedical
research and clinical practice. Dr. Peter Davies, an internationally recognized vascular biologist with a
longstanding interest on the effect of shear stress (physical forces) on the vascular endothelium,
serves as Director of the Institute.
The IME has recruited 11 faculty investigators skilled in biomedical engineering into departments of
both schools, provided specialized space and facilities for the intellectual pursuit of interdisciplinary
research, and attracted outstanding predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees into molecular and cellular
biomedical engineering. In FY04, these faculty members received $11,200,000 in total NIH support.
Membership in the IME currently stands at 91 faculty extending throughout the university. The
Institute is centered in the Vagelos Research laboratories (13,000 nsf), with additional laboratory
space in the Medical and Engineering complexes adjacent (approx 6,000 nsf).
IME members represent a true interdisciplinary thrust by virtue of expertise in quantitative biology,
biological aspects of engineering and clinical medicine. Research thrusts are Cardiovascular, Cell and
Tissue Engineering, and Neuroengineering. Penns Center for Bioinformatics and a Center for
Bioactive Materials in Tissue Engineering are within the administrative structure of the IME.
The IME Seminar Series hosts about 40 seminars each year by guest and local speakers on a variety
of topics in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research (see Appendix).
Heart Failure and Transplantation Research Program (Ken Margulies, M.D., Director)
Over the past five years, the University of Pennsylvania has established one of the five busiest heart
failure and transplantation programs in the United States. In parallel with establishing this large
clinical program and database, we have successfully recruited three leading translational researchers
in the area of heart failure and transplantation. The Heart Failure and Transplantation Translational
Research Program is directed by Dr. Ken Margulies who is nationally recognized for his translational
heart failure research focused on human cardiac myocyte physiology.
The Heart Failure Translational Research Center is currently located in approximately 7,000 square
feet of space that will be relocated to the Penn CVI. This space includes a Cardiac Myocyte Function
Core Laboratory and a Mouse Cardiovascular Physiology Core Laboratory. Drs. Tom Cappola and
Dan Dries who were recently recruited to Penn to establish a program in the Genetics and Genomics
of Heart Failure and Transplantation are also located in this space. The Heart Failure and
Transplantation program will provide a relatively unique environment for physician-scientists
interested in obtaining postdoctoral training in translational heart failure and transplantation research.
Cardiac Electrophysiology Research Program (Francis Marchlinski, Director)
The University of Pennsylvania is internationally recognized for the pioneering research programs in
the area of cardiac electrophysiology. The program established by Dr. Mark Josephson in the late
seventies is now directed by Dr. Francis Marchlinski. Dr. Marchlinski is internationally recognized for
his studies demonstrating the efficacy of radiofrequency catheter ablation and devices to treat and in
some cases cure ventricular and atrial tachyarrhythmias. Penn EP faculty members (9 full-time
clinical investigators and three basic/translational scientists) have a longstanding record of academic
productivity and of training investigators for careers in academic electrophysiology.
Vickas Patel, M.D., Ph.D., a past-trainee on this grant, was recently recruited to Penn to establish a
translational program in channel biology/mouse electrophysiology. He will oversee the training of
physician-scientists interested in academic careers in basic cardiac electrophysiology resarch.
Trainees interested in channel biology/cardiac electrophysiology have access to the Mouse Cardiac
Electrophysiology Core laboratory and the large animal Experimental Electrophysiology Laboratory.
Three Cardiology fellows have elected to obtain advanced research training in this laboratory under
the mentorship of Drs. Marchlinski and Patel, MD (Tables IX and X).
GLP-Certified Experimental Interventional Cardiology Laboratory (Robert Wilensky, Director)
To facilitate preclinical research, a GLP-certified Experimental Interventional Cardiology Laboratory
was established in the basement of the BRBII/III building. This laboratory is directed by Dr. Robert
Wilensky, an interventional cardiologist with expertise in intra-coronary drug and gene delivery. The
focus of the laboratory is to translate discoveries in vascular biology into new therapies for
atherosclerosis. Through this program, trainees have the opportunity to obtain expertise in molecular
biology, vascular biology and biochemistry. Two trainees sponsored by this grant have trained in this
program (see Tables IX and X).
The Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute/Angiogenesis Program (M. Celeste Simon, Director)
The Angiogenesis and Vascular Development research program was established in 1999 under the
direction of Professor M. Celeste Simon, Investigator HHMI.
Dr. Simon is recognized for her research elucidating the role of specific transcription factors in
regulating angiogenesis and hypoxic response. In addition, Dr. Gary Koretzky, who is internationally
recognized for his expertise in intracellular signaling, is a member of the Abramson Institute. Dr.
Koretzky has established collaborations with Dr. Mark Kahn (who is based in the Molecular
Cardiology Center) studying the function of novel G-protein coupled receptors in platelets.
The Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute hosts a weekly seminar series that is attended by
many of the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the Molecular Cardiology program. Drs.
Simon, Koretzky and Kahn serve as trainers on this training program. Dr. John Lee, a current trainee
on this grant who is mentored by Dr. Mark Kahn and Gary Koretzky, is examining the function of lung
Kruppel-like factor (LKLF) in the developing vasculature (Table IX and X).
Patient-Oriented Cardiovascular Research
As described below, the formalized training program in translational/patient-oriented research was
structured to prepare MDs for careers in academic cardiology and related sub-specialties. We believe
a critical component to this training is formalized training including training in study design,
biostatistics and molecular and cellular biology. Formalized training programs tailored to the specific
needs of trainees on this grant are available through the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and
Biostatistics, the newly established Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics and the NIH-
sponsored Penn General Clinical Research Center. Accordingly, trainees have the option of entering
a degree granting program or entering a core curriculum that is individually designed to meet the
future needs of the trainee. For example, trainees interested in interventional cardiology will be
required to take specific courses in vascular biology and molecular medicine.
Some of the participated units in this training grant that contain programs relevant to patient-oriented
research are described below:
The University of Pennsylvania General Clinical Research Center (Garret Fitzgerald, Director)
Founded in 1962 with a NIH grant, the Penn General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) is a
multidisciplinary research facility which is located in a recently constructed unit of the Hospital of the
University of Pennsylvania. The GCRC is a core facility for patient related clinical research at the
Penn Medical Center. It is directed by Garret Fitzgerald and the Associate Director is Dan Rader, both
of whom serve as trainers for this program. The GCRC houses eight in-patient beds and five out-
patient bays and includes a metabolic kitchen staffed by a dietician and a highly sophisticated cardiac
The GCRC has state-of-the-art software and databases designed to store, protect and analyze
research data. The GCRC is utilized by faculty members in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and
Biostatistics and the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics to provide practical training
for students and postdoctoral fellows enrolled in degree granting programs. Trainees, under the
mentorship of a trainer, have the opportunity to perform clinical protocols in the Penn GCRC.
The Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Brian Strom, Director)
The Center for Epidemiology and Biostatistics was established in 1993 on the University of
Pennsylvania medical campus. Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH, Professor of Biostatistics and
Epidemiology, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology is the Center Director. Dr. Stephen Kimmel,
Associate Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) is Director of Cardiovascular Research at the CCEB.
The CCEB has 33 primary faculty members and an additional 28 faculty members have secondary
appointments. The annual research budget of the CCEB exceeds $31 million.
The CCEB is an inter-disciplinary and inter-departmental program. Its mission is to improve the health
of the public by linking epidemiology, biostatistics, and clinical medicine, bringing epidemiologic
research methodology to clinical medicine. The educational programs offered by the Center for
Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB) are designed for health care professionals and
respond to the individual needs of the trainees. These programs include a Master of Science in
Clinical Epidemiology degree program (M.S.C.E.), a PhD degree program in Epidemiology, M.S. and
PhD programs in Biostatistics, and combined M.D./M.S.C.E. and M.D./PhD degree programs. In
addition, a Clinical Research Certificate program is available to those trainees who envision careers
as clinician investigators. This program provides didactic course work, but does not require
preparation of a thesis project. The curriculum for this program is described under section B3.
Proposed Training (below).
The Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (Garret Fitzgerald, Director)
Trainees in the translational/patient-oriented research track will have access to faculty members and
core laboratories located in the ITMAT. Dr. Garret FitzGerald, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist who chairs
the Dept. of Pharmacology, serves as director of the ITMAT. The Institute fosters translational and
clinical research designed to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention by the study of human
pathophysiology, to elucidate the mechanisms of drug action and the factors that contribute to
differences among individuals in their responses to drugs. Center resources include a mass
spectrometry and bioanalytical facility, a clinical investigational unit, a DNA Genomics Unit.
The ITMAT is home to Genetics/Genomics and Proteomics Core Facilities. In addition to providing
core resources for translational research, the ITMAT provides an internal framework for students and
fellows wishing to purse careers in patient-oriented research. Translational research and patient-
oriented trainees sponsored by this grant may enroll in the Masters of Science in Translational
Research degree program, but at a minimum most complete the Translational Medicine Core
Curriculum or CCEB sponsored certificate program.
Each of these programs are described further under section B3. Proposed Training (below).
B. Program Plan1. Program Direction
The Program will be directed by Dr. Michael S. Parmacek, the Herbert C. Rorer Professor of Medical
Sciences, Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and director of the newly established
University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute (see above).
He is an NIH/NHLBI-funded scientist who for the past 17 years has demonstrated interest and
commitment to training medical and graduate students and MD, PhD and MD/PhD postdoctoral
fellows. After completing Cardiology fellowship training, Dr. Parmacek performed a postdoctoral
research fellowship in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Michigan where he
later joined the faculty. Subsequently he has been a faculty member at the University of Chicago
(1992-1998) serving as Co-Director of the Cardiology Fellowship Training Program and a member of
the Executive Committee of the University of Chicago Training Grant in Cardiovascular Sciences. He
joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1998 as Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular
Medicine and established the Penn Molecular Cardiology Center in 1999. Recently, Parmacek was
named director of the newly established University of Pennsylvania Cardiovascular Institute.
Dr. Parmacek's research interest lies in the examining the molecular and genetic programs regulating
cardiovascular development.He is currently the P.I. of two NIH-funded research grants and serves as
an ad-hoc member of several different NHLBI study sections. He is an elected member of the ASCI
and AAP and a former Established Investigator of the AHA.
He is active in medical and graduate education in a number of ways, including by providing didactic
lectures for undergraduate and graduate medical education, lecturing in courses in the Departments
of Physiology and Pharmacology, providing lectures to the Cardiology fellows, and serving as
attending physician in the CCU and Cardiology Consultation services where he trains medical
students, residents and Cardiology fellows.
His duties as Director of this training program will include advising all trainees and overseeing and
coordinating formal training exercises that constitute the program. He also serves as Chair of the
training grant Advisory Committee (see below). This will involve 10% of Dr. Parmaceks total effort.
Dr. Parmacek has served as the primary trainer for graduate and medical students and postdoctoral
fellows including four trainees sponsored by this grant (Tables IX and X). In this position, he works
closely with Dr. Martin St. John Sutton (Director of the Cardiology Fellowship Training Program)
advising cardiovascular fellows and MD/PhD students in the choice of research areas, and in
following their progress.
Co-Director of the Training Program
Dr. H. Lee Sweeney, Professor and Chairman of Physiology will serve as Co-Director of the Training
Program. He is also Associate Director of the Pennsylvania Muscle Institute. He joined the University
of Pennsylvania faculty in 1989, and has been an active participant in graduate teaching and
curriculum development. Dr. Sweeney spearheaded the development of the Training Program in
Muscle and Motility. Dr. Sweeney received formal training in biochemistry (S.B.) and in physiology
and biophysics (PhD). His major research is examining muscle function and physiology at a molecular
level. He also studies the molecular mechanisms regulating cardiac myocyte survival following
ischemic injury and has utilized gene transfer to attenuate or abolish myocardial injury following
cardiac ischemia. Moreover, he has pioneered novel methods to regulate virus-mediated gene
transfer. His laboratory routinely utilizes techniques of molecular biology, biochemistry and
Over the last nine years, he has mentored five fellows on this training grant (Tables IX and X), all of
whom were in clinical departments including Cardiology, Thoracic Surgery and Vascular Surgery. His
duties as Co-Director of this grant will include advising all basic science trainees and overseeing and
coordinating formal training exercises (i.e. journal clubs and retreats) that constitute the program. This
will involve 5% of Dr. Sweeney's total effort.
Fiscal administration of this grant will be handled by the Business Office of the Penn Cardiovascular
Institute. Ms. Barbara Barras, the Grants Administrator for the Division or Cardiovascular Medicine
and Penn CVI, administers all awards for the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and will assume
responsibility for the grant, and will provide a monthly financial summary. Ms. Barras will act as the
liason between the University, the Training Program and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
An Oversight Committee, which consists of trainers in a variety of disciplines spanning basic,
translational and patient-oriented research, will advise the Program Directors on all major policy
matters pertaining to this training program and grant. This committee is responsible for the selection
of all trainees, mentors for these trainees, and will decide the duration of the trainees support on the
Thereafter, the committee will assess the performance of trainees on a quarterly basis. The
committee also will help in the coordination of components of the training program, including courses
and seminar programs. In addition, the program directors plan to invite two prominent researchers in
academic cardiology as visiting professors each year to provide critical evaluation of the training
program as well as to serve as guest lecturers.
The Oversight Committee consists of:
1) Dr. Michael S. Parmacek, Program Director, Herbert C. Rorer Professor of Medical Sciences, Chief
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Director of the Penn Cardiovascular Institute
2) Dr. H. Lee Sweeney, Program Co-Director, Professor of Physiology and Medicine, Chairman of the
Department of Physiology
3) Dr. Jonathan Epstein, W.W. Smith Professor of Medicine, Director of the Molecular Cardiology
Program, Associate Director of the Penn Cardiovascular Institute
4) Dr. Garret FitzGerald, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology and Director of
the ITMAT and GCRC
5) Dr. Dan Rader, Associate Professor of Medicine, Director of the Penn Preventive Cardiology
program, Associate Director of the Penn GCRC
6) Dr. Martin St. John Sutton, Professor of Medicine, Director Cardiology Fellowship Training Program
7) Dr. Lawrence Brass, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, Assoc. Dean and Director
Combined Degree and Physician Scholar Program (MD/PhD Program)
2. Program Faculty
There are currently 36 faculty trainers associated with this grant. Table II is a list of program faculty
including their departmental affiliation, role and percent effort. A brief description of their research
interests is provided below. All of them are full-time members at the University of Pennsylvania and
devote most of their time to basic, translational or patient-oriented research. Table III is a listing of all
current and pending training support available to participating faculty members and departments
including the funding source, complete id number, title of training program, name of program director,
project period, number of training positions (pre and post doc) and the amount of award.
Of note, none of these grants supports training in basic or translational cardiovascular research.
Table IV lists all past and current students for whom program faculty are serving as thesis advisor or
sponsor. Those trainees who were, or are, supported by this training grant are denoted with an
Trainer Research Descriptions
Michael S. Parmacek, MD (Director)
The Parmacek laboratory examines the molecular and genetic programs regulating cardiovascular
development. In the Parmacek laboratory transgenic and gene knockout technologies are utilized to
characterize the function of genes and proteins mediating critical functions in the developing
cardiovascular system. The Parmacek laboratory cloned and characterized the function of the GATA-
4/5/6 subfamily of zinc finger transcription factors in the cardiovascular system. The Parmacek
laboratory also studies the transcriptional regulatory programs regulating vascular smooth muscle cell
differentiation and modulation of SMC phenotype. While primarily basic/molecular in nature, these
fundamental studies have provided insights into the pathogenesis of common forms of congenital
heart disease and vascular proliferative syndromes including atherosclerosis. In addition, Dr.
Parmacek is involved in several on-going collaborations in translational cardiovascular research in the
areas of metabolic/diabetic vascular disease and heart failure.
H. Lee Sweeney, PhD (Co-Director)
Dr. Sweeney’s laboratory integrates biochemical and molecular biological tools and techniques with
cellular physiology. Dr. Sweeneys basic studies are focused primarily on elucidating muscle function
at a molecular level. This work involves assessing protein structure/function relationships of the heavy
chain and the light chains of myosin. Wild type and mutant cardiac myosin heavy chain (and other
contractile proteins) are introduced into myogenic cells using a variety of techniques including
transfection, micro-injection and adenovirus-mediated gene transfer. Among the many questions
currently under study is examination of the molecular mechanisms that lead to hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy. In addition, the Sweeney laboratory is actively investigating novel gene therapies
that may be applicable in the future to the treatment of muscle dystrophies and cardiomyopathy.
Morris Birnbaum, MD, PhD
Dr. Birnbaum's laboratory studies the processes that coordinately regulate growth and metabolism in
a number of contexts, including the regulation of glucose metabolism by insulin in vertebrates, and
the determination of cell size in Drosophila melanogaster. A critical regulator of such processes is the
serine/threonine protein kinase known as Akt or PKB. This enzyme has been implicated as a
mediator of insulin action, a prime regulator of cellular growth, and as a potent anti-apoptotic factor.
Dr. Birnbaum's laboratory is utilizing cell culture and mouse models to investigate the role and
mechanism of Akt/PKB in such processes as vasculogenesis, glucose utilization, and hypertrophy of
vascular smooth muscle, as well as cardiac and skeletal muscle. In the latter two organs, AMP-
activated protein appears to have a major role in switching from an anabolic to a catabolic program.
Lawrence F. Brass, MD, PhD
Dr. Brass research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying atherosclerosis
and thrombosis. Specifically, they study the signal transduction pathways that allow platelets and
endothelial cells to respond to extracellular events.
Topics currently under investigation include: 1) Protease-activated G protein coupled receptors,
including the thrombin receptor. Their work focuses on the identification of additional family members,
the signaling pathways that are initiated when these receptors are activated, the trafficking of the
receptors within the cell as used receptors are replaced, and the development of receptor antagonists
and clinically-useful assays for detecting receptor activation in vivo. 2) The role of the G protein, Gz.
Gz is one of the G proteins that are not universally expressed, its presence being limited mainly to
some neural cells and to some hematopoietic cells, particularly megakaryocytes and platelets. 3) The
role in platelet activation and endothelial cell biology of Eph tyrosine kinase receptors and their
ligands, which are known as ephrins.
David J. Callans, MD
Dr. Callans research interest is in defining the molecular and anatomic basis of ventricular
tachyarrhythmias (VT) he serves as the Director of the Experimental Electrophysiology Laboratory
(EEPL). In the EEPL a swine model of post-infarct VT is used to test the hypothesis that detailed
mapping performed during VT superimposed on the voltage map obtained in sinus rhythm will: 1.
Facilitate the development of a minimalistic linear lesion strategy, 2. Obviate the need for future
mapping during VT, and 3. Allow for the development of prophylactic ablation strategies.
Dr. Callans also performs patient-oriented research examining whether overlapping linear catheter
ablation lesions of the electroanatomic VT substrate, performed in sinus rhythm guided by the
CARTO mapping system, is feasible and will result in curative treatment for ventricular arrhythmias
associated with healed myocardial infarction.
Thomas P. Cappola, MD, MPH
Dr. Cappolas primary research interest is examining the molecular basis of heart failure. He directs
the genomics of heart failure program and has established a heart failure/ genomics database at
Penn. Consenting heart failure patients are entered into a database that includes over 300 variables
including clinical profile, hemodynamic indices, family history (detailed), standard laboratory data and
neurohormonal profile. In addition, Dr. Cappola has established a DNA bank on all patients entered in
the genetics and genomics of heart failure program. The focus of Dr. Cappolas current research is on
identifying critical transcription factors that modulate heart failure with particular focus on the role of
PPARg signaling mechanisms.
Peter F. Davies, PhD
The Davies lab is a cell and molecular facility focused on mechanism of cardiovascular diseases,
particularly the biomechanics (mechanotransduction) of arterial biology and pathology. Of major
interest are the mechanisms of interaction of hemodynamic forces with the arterial endothelium. The
fluid dynamics which define mass transport characteristics at the endothelial surface are also of
interest. Experimental approaches range from model flow systems to transgenic animals.
Characterization of endothelial surfaces using atomic force microscopy and finite element analyses
are linked to single cell and regional endothelial gene expression. A powerful technique in use is a
combination of single cell mRNA amplification combined with high throughput microarray
hybridizations to develop transcriptional profiles that are precisely defined spatially. A second thrust is
in the area of cell-cell communication, specifically through analyses of endothelial gap junction
biology. A third approach to cytomechanics is through the development and use of GFP-cytoskeletal
constructs that facilitate real-time imaging of intermediate filament and actin dynamics during changes
in the mechanical environment in living cell geometry arising both spontaneously and as a function of
applied hemodynamic forces.
Jonathan A. Epstein, MD
The Epstein laboratory studies transcriptional programs controlling heart and outflow tract
development with particular focus on defining the function(s) of the cardiac neural crest. This research
has provided understanding of the molecular and genetic basis of congenital heart disease and
cardiomyopathy. The Epstein laboratory has focused on examining the role of Pax3, a gene required
for proper neural crest function, during cardiovascular morphogenesis. They are also studying the role
of the Neurofibromatosis Type I gene, Nf1, in neural crest cells and in many other tissues. Inactivation
of Nf1 in mice leads to congenital heart defects that may or may not be related to neural crest defects.
In collaboration with investigators at Albert Einstein the Epstein lab demonstrated that mutations in
TBX1 are responsible for many of the defects observed in DiGeorge Syndrome. In addition, the
Epstein laboratory cloned and characterized the cardiac-restricted homeobox gene, HOP, which
regulates cardiac myocyte growth and differentiation. In a series of translational research studies, the
Epstein laboratory has been examining the role that histone deacetylasaes (HDACS) plan in
regulating cardiac hypertrophy.
Garret A. FitzGerald, MD, PhD
Dr. FitzGerald has a long-standing research interest in understanding the mechanical forces and
chemical mediators that cause endothelial cell dysfunction and eventually atherosclerosis. He is
internationally recognized for his studies demonstrating that oxidant stress plays an important role in
the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. His laboratory has used transgenic mouse and gene knock-out
mouse models of atherosclerosis to examine the role that eicosanoids and iso-eicosanoids play in
mediating atherosclerosis. PGI2 is a potent vasodilator and platelet antagonist. It may also modulate
cellular proliferation, adhesive interactions of monocytes and platelets with endothelial cells, and
cholesterol export, properties that may limit atherogenesis. Cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 is a major
source of PGI2 in humans and COX-2 inhibitors suppress PGI2 formation without concomitant
platelet inhibition. In a series of translational studies, Dr. FitzGerald is testing the mechanisms
underlying the pro-thrombotic (and potentially pro-atherosclerotic) effects of selective inhibitors of
COX-2 in humans, in conventional and novel mouse models of atherosclerosis and in genetic crosses
of these models with mice lacking COX-2 or the PGI2 receptor.
Yale Goldman, MD, PhD
Muscle and myocardium are prototype biological energy transducers that can be understood at a
particularly fine level of detail. In the Goldman lab, the reactions of the contractile proteins and their
signaling and trigger molecules are initiated rapidly and abruptly by laser photolysis of "caged"
precursors. This powerful method enables resolution of kinetic events in organized biological systems
to the millisecond time scale, using intense laser pulses to cleave "caged" molecules within muscle
preparations. This leads to rapid release of the parent molecules, such as nucleotides, Ca2+ and
phosphoinositides. The laser photolysis technique is combined with detection methods such as
advanced single-molecule optical spectroscopy, time-resolved electron microscopy, high time
resolution mechanical recording from single fibers, and isotope exchange. Chromophores (fluorescent
or phosphorescent probes) are covalently attached to specific sites on actin or myosin with known
orientation in the protein crystal coordinates. Polarization of the absorption or emission transition
moments of these probes during reactions initiated by photolysis of caged molecules is a powerful
technique to detect motions of actomyosin and many other protein structural changes. All of these
techniques are applicable in myocardiocytes and vascular smooth muscle cells toward understanding
normal and pathophysiological processes in the cardiovascular system.
Keith J. Gooch, PhD
Blood vessels can remodel either physiologically or pathologically when exposed to altered
mechanical environments. The complex interdependence between components of the mechanical
environment (e.g., pressure, shear, and strain) in vivo has hindered the identification of the specific
mechanical stimuli responsible for remodeling. To help identify the mechanical stimuli responsible for
vascular remodeling, a system for exposing viable, excised, blood vessels to precisely controlled flow
and pressure regimes has been built. Using this system, Dr. Gooch is investigating the effects of
transmural pressure, cyclic strain, fluid shear stress, and longitudinal tension on remodeling of
excised porcine arteries and veins. In addition to improving our knowledge of physiological and
pathological events, Dr. Gooch believes that an understanding of mechanically induced remodeling
could be used to apply appropriate mechanical conditions to direct the remodeling of human vessels -
vessels that could potentially be used as autologous vascular grafts after appropriate ex vivo
Joseph Gorman, MD
The Gorman laboratory has two related primary areas of investigation. First, they are interested in
understanding the remodeling process following myocardial infarction at a mechanical, cellular,
biochemical and genetic level in order to develop novel medical and surgical interventions which are
designed to prevent rather than reverse the remodeling process. MRI, 2D and 3D echocardiography
as well as sonomicrometry are used to assess regional myocardial strains which are then correlated
with regional biologic markers that are associated with adverse remodeling. Second, they are
interested in improving mitral valve repair surgery for both degenerative and ischemic etiologies we
are studying the dynamic anatomy of the valve using MRI, 2D and 3D echocardiography as well as
sonomicrometry. Several new annuloplasty and replacement devices are currently being designed by
members of the laboratory. Techniques for performing virtual surgery on 3D valve reconstruction are
also under development.
Peter J. Gruber, MD
Dr. Grubers research interest is in the molecular and genetic basis of congenital heart disease. The
Gruber lab takes a broad variety of molecular genetic and physiological approaches to understand the
heart in development and disease. One portion of the lab examines the functional consequences of
the targeted deletion of transcription factors that may play an important role in cardiogenesis. A
second group is dedicated towards the examination of epigenetic modulation of cardiac function, both
developmentally, and as therapy for ischemic heart disease. Third, they are interested in cardiac
regeneration through the purification and characterization of a population of self-renewing, heart
progenitor cells. A common theme running through these projects is the intersection of the rich clinical
material available at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the use of molecular
techniques in animal models to dissect pathways important in the diagnosis and therapy of congenital
Howard C. Herrmann, MD
Dr. Herrmann performs patient-oriented research focused in both medication and device areas
related to interventional cardiology. Dr. Herrmann's primary research interest is in novel percutaneous
treatments for valvular heart disease, including balloon valvuloplasty, stented-aortic valves, and
coronary sinus devices for mitral regurgitation. He is participating in a phase 1 trial of percutaneous
edge-to-edge repair for mitral regurgitation and is designing his own percutaneous replacement mitral
valve. Dr. Herrmann is also participating in and serves on the steering committee of other device trials
for acute myocardial infarction (FLAME trial), for PFO and ASD closure (CLOSURE-1), distal
protection during saphenous vein graft intervention (FIRE), new drug-eluting stent trials (ATLAS), a
randomized trial comparing CABG and PCI (FREEDOM), and several multi-center trials examining
new adjunctive anti-platelet and anti-thrombotic therapies for PCI (TENACIY, ACUITY).
Katherine A. High, MD
The focus of the High laboratory is on the genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry of blood
coagulation factors. Major areas of investigation include: 1) Structure-function analysis of Factors VII,
IX and X. 2) Study of the regulation of expression of the genes encoding the vitamin K dependent
clotting factors. These genes manifest tissue-specific expression; they are expressed only in the liver.
They have isolated the 5' flanking sequences of all three genes, characterized promoter activity and
determined, using DNase footprinting, the location of protein binding sites within these promoters. In
the case of Factor X, they have determined through a variety of approaches the identity of the
transcription factors binding to the promoter and are in the process of carrying out similar studies on
the promoters of VII and IX. 3) Studies designed to establish an experimental and clinical basis for
gene therapy of hemophilia, a bleeding disorder that results from a deficiency of functional Factor IX.
They are currently using both viral and non-viral vectors to introduce the Factor IX cDNA into target
cells of interest.
Mark L. Kahn, MD
The Kahn laboratory investigates vascular receptor signaling involved in thrombosis and
angiogenesis. They are presently focused on platelet signaling responses to G protein coupled and
non-G protein coupled receptors (GPCR). Specific areas of investigation include: 1) Non-GPCR
activation of platelets: characterization of novel platelet receptors. 2) G protein activation of platelets:
regulation of G protein signaling in vivo. Dr. Kahn in collaboration with Dr. Gary Koretzky have
demonstrated that Slp-76 and Syk- signaling plays a critical role in embryonic angiogenesis and
lymphogenesis. Ongoing studies are examining the molecular basis of Slp- and Syk- signaling in the
vasculature. Dr. Kahn is engineering conditional mutations in mice to better elucidate the cell
autonomous role of Slp-76- and Syk- signaling during embryonic cardiovascular development and
there role in platelet signaling.
Stephen E. Kimmel, MD, MSCE
Dr. Kimmels research is in cardiovascular epidemiology with a focus on the effects of non-cardiac
medications on the heart and on angioplasty outcomes. His work includes one of the largest cohort
studies ever performed to examine protamine adverse drug reactions after cardiopulmonary bypass;
an almost 4,000 person case-control study, involving 68 sites, of the relationship between myocardial
infarction (MI) and nicotine patches; and an over 8,500 person case-control study examining the
effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on MI. He also has performed numerous studies of
angioplasty outcomes, including studies of the association between laboratory volume and
complications. He is the PI of an NIH R01-funded prospective pharmacogentic epidemiology cohort
study examining genetic predictors of anticoagulation control on warfarin. Dr. Kimmel also is the
recipient of an NIH K24 Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research to study genetic
influences on the response to anticoagulation drugs. He recently received an NIH P20 Roadmap
Grant for development of interdisciplinary research in the field of Human Pharmacogenomic
Gary Koretzky, MD, PhD
A major focus of research in the Koretzky laboratory is on the integrationof signal transduction
pathways leading to cellular activation or programmed cell death. Recently his group has identified
several novel adapter proteins, molecules with no intrinsic enzymatic activity but which function by
mediating protein-protein interactions. One of these proteins (designated SLP-76) appears to play a
critical role in T cell differentiation and activation as well as in platelet function. Over-expression of
SLP-76 in T cell lines leads to a dramatic augmentation of T cell antigen receptor induced interleukin
2 production. Generation of mice deficient in SLP-76 leads to a complete loss of peripheral T cells
with an arrest early in thymocyte development. SLP-76 deficient mice additionally exhibit severe
perinatal hemorrhage, presumably due to defects in platelet signal transduction. His laboratory is now
performing a detailed structure function analysis of SLP-76 in both T cells and
megakaryocyte/platelets. They are utilizing biochemical, imaging, and genetic techniques to
determine what inter-molecular interactions directed by SLP-76 are critical for its function as a
regulator of signal transduction events.
Mitchell A. Lazar, MD, PhD
Dr. Lazar's research focuses on nuclear hormone receptors and their actions. In the absence of
hormone, receptors interact with corepressor molecules to repress transcription; hormone ligand
leads to coactivator recruitment and activation of transcription. The receptor complexes contain
histone modifying activities that may be drug targets. Specifically, Dr. Lazar is studying the molecular
mechanisms of nuclear receptors called PPARs. PPAR ligands actively promote fat cell
differentiation. Excitement has been generated by the observation that PPAR ligands include a
promising new class of antidiabetic drugs called thiazolidinediones (TZDs), including troglitazone
(RezulinR), pioglitazone (ActosR), and rosiglitazone (AvandiaR). These drugs enhance the actions of
insulin, which is critical because diabetes is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the U.S, and
more than 95% of diabetics have type 2 diabetes, associated with obesity and severe resistance to
the action of insulin. The mechanism whereby PPAR activation leads to increased insulin sensitivity is
not known. In a series of related studies, the Lazar laboratory has also identified and is further
characterizing resistin, a hormone that in murine models is responsible in part for insulin resistance.
Francis E. Marchlinski, MD
Dr. Marchlinski's research focuses on elucidating the anatomic and electrophysiologic substrate for
atrial and ventricular arrhythmias in man. On-going research studies involve a detailed
characterization of the electroanatomy associated with atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.
Pharmacologic manipulation and stimulation techniques are used to alter the substrate to enhance
understanding of the conditions that promote arrhythmogenesis. State-of-the art magnetic mapping
and intracardiac echo recording techniques are used during ablation procedures to characterize the
creation and location of all lesions and their effect on the electroanatomic substrate. They also use
radiofrequency ablation techniques as a powerful tool for further delineating the electroanatomic
substrate. This detailed physiologically oriented approach has permitted the design of original
strategies and technology for curing arrhythmias in man.
Kenneth Margulies, MD
Dr. Margulie's research examines load-induced myocardial remodeling, myocardial failure and
myocardial recovery. Mechanistic studies focus on cardiac mechanics, cardiac myocyte calcium
homeostasis, and regulation of the myocardial extracellular matrix. To better understand these areas,
his laboratory performs research using clinically relevant animal models, human tissues made
available at the time of cardiac transplantation and patient-based translational research. Studies
typically involve multilevel physiological inquiries and employ isolated cardiac myocytes, muscle
strips, isolated hearts and in vivo methodologies. Molecular analyses, including studies using high-
throughput microarray techniques, complement these functional inquiries. Dr. Margulies is the
Director of the Penn Heart Failure research program and has established extensive collaborations
with Joe and Rob Gorman who direct the large animal cardiovascular surgery laboratory and Dr.
Jonathan Epstein, Director of the Molecular Cardiology research program.
Emile R. Mohler, MD
Dr. Mohlers research examines the molecular pathogenesis of valvular heart disease and vascular
proliferative syndromes. His laboratory has shown that inflammation may underlie common forms of
degenerative valvular disease. They have studied excised human valves in tissue culture and
documented that the same osteogenic program that is activated in atherosclerotic lesions is
recapitulated in valvular heart disease. His laboratory is currently examining whether specific anti-
inflammatory therapies may be efficacious in the treatment of aortic stenosis. Dr. Mohler is also
interested in the function(s) of bone marrow-derived and/or circulating endothelial progenitor cells in
vascular proliferative syndromes. In collaboration with Dr. Robert Wilensky, Mohler has generated a
hypercholesterolemic, diabetic porcine model of type I diabetic vascular disease that recapitulates the
progression from endothelial dysfunction to macrovascular disease observed in diabetic patients.
Edward E. Morrisey, PhD
The focus of the Morrisey laboratory is examining the transcriptional programs that control heart and
lung development. Dr. Morrisey, while a postdoctoral fellow training with Dr. Parmacek, cloned and
characterized the GATA-4/5/6 subfamily of transcription factors, each of which plays a unique role in
the developing heart. Since establishing his laboratory, Morrisey has focused his research on defining
the role of the Foxp1/2/4 subfamily of winged helix transcription factors play in the developing heart
and lung. He has generated null mutations in ES cells and mice of each subfamily member and
shown that each factor plays a unique and important role in the developing heart and/or lung. These
studies led to the fundamentally important observation that heart chamber formation is pre-
programmed in migrating cardiac progenitors and is not dependent upon heart tube fusion (Science
Warren S. Pear, MD
The focus of the Pear laboratory is understanding the role of Notch signaling in cardiovascular and
hematopoietic development and differentiation.. Notch proteins are a conserved family of receptors
that regulate cell fate decisions in organisms ranging from Drosophila to humans. Both gain and loss
of function studies have implicated Notch signaling in both cardiovascular and hematopoietic
development. Using a variety of in vitro and in vivo approaches, the Pear laboratory has shown that
Notch regulates hematopoietic stem cell homeostasis and T cell development. They have extended
their studies to cardiovascular development where they have found that Notch signaling plays key
roles in vascular and cardiac development and function. In addition to their role in normal
hematopoiesis, Notch proteins have also been implicated in human leukemia. Finally, they have
developed a mouse model of Notch-related leukemia and are using this to study the signaling
pathways that lead to oncogenic transformation. It is the ultimate goal of the Pear laboratory to
translate our understanding of Notch signaling in development and disease into novel approaches
that will lead to advances in diagnosing and treating cardiovascular and hematologic diseases.
Ellen Pure, PhD
Dr. Pure’s laboratory investigates the immunobiology of atherosclerosis. They have shown that the
cell adhesion molecular CD44 is up-regulated, and its ligand, hyaluronan, accumulates in
atherosclerotic lesions. They have also shown that CD44-/- x ApoE-/- mice have a marked decrease
in atherosclerotic plaques compared to ApoE-deficient mice suggesting that CD44 is pro-atherogenic.
They are currently investigating the molecular mechanisms regulating the atherogenicity of CD44.
The Pure laboratory is also investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenicity of
oxidized LDL (OxLDL) in the vessel wall. They have determined that OxLDL does not promote
macrophage production of pro-inflammatory cytokines including IL-12, TNF or IL-1. These data
challenge the existing paradigm that OxLDL increases inflammation in the arterial wall. On-going
research is investigating the molecular events that trigger the chronic inflammatory response that lead
Daniel J. Rader, MD
Dr. Rader's laboratory is interested in inflammatory and genetic factors that regulate the metabolism
of plasma lipoproteins and their interaction with the vessel wall in promoting and inhibiting
atherogenesis. Both basic laboratory science and clinical research approaches are used to examine
the role of lipids and other genetic modifiers in promoting atherosclerosis.
The major projects can be divided into the following groups:
1) Inflammatory and genetic factors that regulate the in vivo metabolism of HDL and its plasma levels.
2) Molecular and cellular mechanisms by which HDL-associated proteins inhibit atherogenesis and
induce regression of atherosclerotic lesions. Somatic gene transfer of HDL-associated proteins is
used in mouse models of atherosclerosis in order to study their effects on atherogenesis in vivo. 3)
Dietary and genetic regulation of hepatic lipoprotein production. Gene transfer and transgenic
approaches are used to study the interaction between specific genes, such as the microsomal
transfer protein, and dietary manipulation in the regulation of hepatic apoB production in mice.
Lipoprotein kinetic studies are also performed in humans using endogenous labeling of
apolipoproteins with stable isotopically labeled leucine. 4) Genetic factors associated with premature
atherosclerotic disease and high or low levels of HDL cholesterol. Subjects with family history of
premature coronary disease or with extremes of HDL cholesterol are recruited and phenotyped for
cardiovascular risk factors and subclinical atherosclerosis. Candidate genes are investigated for their
association with subclinical atherosclerosis.
Muredach P. Reilly, MD
Dr. Reilly's research interests include (1) mechanisms of atherosclerosis in metabolic syndrome,
diabetes and obesity, (2) the role on innate immunity in promoting atherosclerotic risk in metabolic
syndrome, (3) the functions of adipose tissue in regulation of HDL cholesterol and reverse cholesterol
transport, (4) genetics of atherosclerosis and dyslipidemia in high risk populations including type 2
diabetes, subjects with family history of CAD, and in HIV infected populations (5) non-invasive
imaging of atherosclerosis in humans. Dr Reilly employs a translational approach to his research
including cell and animal based mechanistic studies, mechanistic patient-oriented, General Clinical
Research Center studies as well as larger scale epidemiological studies in humans. Examples of his
funded research projects include; a POR, GCRC based study of endotoxin as a model of
inflammatory induced pro-atherosclerotic responses in humans with the metabolic syndrome; cross-
sectional association study of novel genetic and biochemical markers of coronary atherosclerosis in
asymptomatic type 2 diabetic patients; genetics of protease inhibitor induced dyslipidemia in HIV;
effect of PKC modulation on mouse and human atherosclerosis; a clinical trial of HDL elevating
therapy on carotid atherosclerotic plaque morphology at MRI.
Joseph W. Sanger, PhD
The focus of the Sanger laboratory is the molecular mechanisms underlying the assembly of
myofibrils in living cardiac muscle cells. The assembly is visualized by either the microinjection of
fluorescently labeled proteins or the transfection of cardiomyocytes with plasmids encoding
cytoskeletal proteins linked to a fluorescent reporter molecule such as Green Fluorescent Protein or
Ds Red protein. The appearance and position of the fluorescently labeled proteins are detected with
low light level cameras. The data is analyzed with various image analysis programs.
M. Celeste Simon, PhD
The Simon laboratory focuses on understanding the transcriptional programs that control vascular
and hematopoietic development. Dr. Simon leads the angiogenesis research program within the
Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute. Using transgenic and gene knock-out technologies, Dr.
Simon has shown that GATA-1 is required for differentiation of the erythroid cell lineage and ets-
family members regulate specific steps in myeloid cell differentiation. Several on-going projects in Dr.
Simons laboratory are focused on defining the transcription factors and signaling pathways that
regulate vascular development and angiogenesis. They have demonstrated that mice harboring a null
mutation in ARNT exhibit abnormal angiogenesis in response to glucose and oxygen deprivation. In
addition, they are examining the signaling pathways that regulate HIF1a and HIF1b; transcription
factors that coordinate response to tissue hypoxia including expression of the angiogenesis factor
VEGF. These studies provide fundamental insights into vascular development. In addition, they are
relevant to the understanding, and potentially therapy, of atherosclerosis and ischemic syndromes.
Martin G. St. John Sutton, MBBS
Dr. St. John Suttons research interests focus on evaluation of chamber architecture, function and the
interaction of ventricular loading conditions on hypertrophy using non-invasive imaging techniques
including echocardiography and cardiac MRI. This interest has stimulated the derivation and
validation of equations and formulations employing ultrasound imaging to calculate circumferential
stress, myocardial force development and load-independent measures of contractile performance.
These non-invasive tools have been applied over the years in a number of models of pressure and
volume overload in man before and following operative and pharmacologic interventions to
characterize the time and regression of ventricular hypertrophy and restoration of pump function. The
magnitude and time course of left ventricular chamber remodeling has been related to the size of the
reduction in loading conditions. He is currently studying mechanisms of hypertrophy and regression
from hypertrophy using a unique model of myocardial infarction in sheep. Moreover, he is evaluating
the long term effects of synchronous biventricular pacing on cardiac remodeling.
Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH
Dr. Strom's major research interest is pharmacoepidemiology; many of his research projects are
relevant to cardiovascular medicine. He completed a large-scale case-control study on the effects of
cholecystectomy on subsequent myocardial infarction. He completed a large-scale cohort study using
data from Kaiser Permanente on the proper duration of oral anticoagulation after a pulmonary
embolism, and a nested case-control study about the risk factors for bleeding from this
anticoagulation. He collaborated on another large-scale case-control study of the relationship
between oral contraceptive use and thromboembolism. He completed a large cohort study, using a
large-scale Medicaid claims database, of the gastrointestinal toxicity of potassium chloride used in
patients with hypertension or congestive heart failure. He has recently completed a large-scale
population-based case-control study on risk factors for infective endocarditis. Dr. Strom is
collaborating with Dr. Kimmel on a study of the incidence of and risk factors for protamine reactions, a
series of case-control studies of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and myocardial infarction, a
large-scale population-based case-control study of nicotine patches and myocardial infarction, and a
series of analyses of a nationwide registry of angioplasty, exploring predictors of complications from
Craig B. Thompson, MD
The Thompson laboratory studies a wide range of basic issues concerning cell proliferation, signal
transduction, and apoptosis. The laboratory concentrates its studies on the lymphoid immune system
focusing on basic aspects of development, cell division, and cell survival. Among the areas under
investigation are: 1) Gene conversion as a mechanism to generate diversity within the immune
system. 2) Recombination intermediates in the process of immunoglobulin rearrangement. 3) Studies
of CD28 as a novel signaling pathway to regulate lymphocyte function. 4) Studies of CTLA-4 as a
major negative regulator of lymphocyte cell proliferation. 5) Characterization of Bcl-x, to date the
single most potent regulator of cell survival identified in vertebrates. 6) Studies of apoptotic control in
the regulation of cancer invasion and metastasis. Major research programs ongoing in the Thompson
laboratory include: 1) Characterizing the biochemical mechanisms by which Bcl-2 proteins promote
cell survival. 2) Defining the role of CD28 and CTLA-4 signaling pathways in the regulation of
lymphocyte homeostasis. 3) Determining how apoptosis resistance contributes to neoplastic
transformation, particularly through the potentiation of genetic instability.
Alexander Whitehead, PhD
Hyperhomocysteinemia, a recognized risk factor for cardiovascular and other diseases, may be
caused by suboptimal folate and B vitamin status and/or common functional mutations in enzymes of
folate/Homocysteine(Hcy) metabolism. The Whitehead laboratory is characterizing the contribution of
such mutations to atherothrombotic diseases by conducting a number of large scale genetic
epidemiology studies in which the relationship between genetic, nutritional, biochemical and clinical