Heart Institute

Heart Institute

Clinical Research

Learning from What We Observe

Many of the Heart Institute’s clinical researchers also conduct basic bench investigation. They take what they learn from patients back to their laboratories to better understand the underlying pathology of heart disease and to find better ways to treat it. These efforts result in transformative treatments; they are recognized with funding to expand their studies.

A $13.4 million NIH Specialized Center of Clinically Oriented Research (SCCOR) grant will further the work of Heart Institute researcher D. Woodrow Benson, MD, PhD, into the genetic causes of heart valve disease. Valve malformations are frequently seen at birth, but valve disease may be recognized at any age.  Growing evidence suggests that valve disease discovered later in life may start during valvulogenesis. The premise of the SCCOR grant: Benson and his team will identify genetic loci linked to valve disease and define the molecular basis of valve defects to better assess patient risk and design new therapeutic approaches.
An innovative collaboration between the Heart Institute and the Division of Nephrology has led to a new Center for Acute Kidney Injury. Clinical research will focus on early detection to minimize the risk of kidney injury in children with cardiovascular disease.

Imaging to Find Heart Problems Early in Muscular Dystrophy

Heart Institute researchers are working with our Imaging Center to use cardiac MRI to identify early heart muscle disease in children with muscular dystrophy. These children develop dilated left ventricles, and by the time they experience symptoms, it’s too late. Early detection could result in better treatment and outcomes.

Our researchers are also using echo imaging to detect novel identifiers for heart muscle disease and fetal imaging that will help predict outcomes when a fetus is diagnosed with heart problems.

Our physicians are studying various medications used to treat heart muscle disease to determine their effectiveness and long-term impact on outcomes. They are also using diagnostics to determine whether heart muscle disease is genetic or acquired due to certain types of viruses.
Our genetics research team is investigating the behavior of cardiac abnormalities associated with various genetic syndromes. They want to understand how and why the same genetic defect in a family can cause different forms of heart disease among its members.
In our Center for Better Health and Nutrition, researchers are studying obesity in young people and how to modify diet to reduce weight and prevent obesity-related heart problems. One area of research interest is on the effect of obesity-related hypertension on vascular dysfunction.

Faculty Conducting Clinical Research in the Heart Institute


Faculty Focus of Research
Jeffrey A. Towbin, MD, FAAP, FACC, FAHA Cardiomyopathy and genetics
Jeffrey B. Anderson, MD, MPH Heart rhythm abnormalities and syncope in pediatric patients
Robert H. Beekman, III, MD  Multicenter trials of stent therapy
James F. Cnota, MD Risk factors and clinical trials in pediatric cardiovascular disease
Allison A. Divanovic, MD Noninvasive fetal echocardiography and congenital heart malformations
Stuart L. Goldstein, MD Acute kidney injury (AKI)
Robert Bruce Hinton, Jr., MD Genetic and developmental basis of pediatric heart disease
Shelley Kirk, PhD, RD, LD Evaluation of diet in comprehensive pediatric weight management
Timothy K. Knilans, MD Evaluation and treatment of syncope and prevention of sudden cardiac death
Andreas W. Loepke, MD, PhD Pediatric cardiac anesthesia and single-ventricle physiology
Erik C. Michelfelder, MD  Cardiac anatomic and functional abnormalities in a fetal pathologic conditions
Robert M. Siegel, MD Pediatric weight management
James P. Spaeth, MD Congenital cardiac disease and cardiac surgery effects on neurodevelopmental outcomes

Elaine M. Urbina, MD
CV risk factors and vascular function


Clinical Research.