Molecular Cardiology Research Institute (MCRI)

Cardiac Biology Research Center

The central core mission of the Cardiac Biology Research Center (CBRC) investigators is to advance our understanding of fundamental mechanisms that regulate cardiac structure and function across multiple disease conditions including heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, pulmonary and systemic hypertension, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, autonomic dysfunction, and arrhythmias. With advanced expertise in molecular cardiology, integrative physiology, molecular imaging, nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, and translational research, the CBRC studies novel signaling mechanisms that govern cardiomyocyte and non-myocyte cell populations. 

Labs

The Blanton Laboratory studies the signaling molecule PKGI-alpha and it’s role in cardiac remolding. The Chen Laboratory utilizes molecular imaging of cell death and survival processes, to elucidate novel cardiovascular pathophysiology, and to leverage the knowledge with nanotechnology to develop therapeutics. The Chin Laboratory focuses on the pathogenesis and treatment of inherited and acquired cardiomyopathies, with particular emphasis on Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Barth Syndrome.  The Galper Laboratory studies the interaction between lipid metabolism and autonomic regulation. The Kapur Laboratory studies the role transforming growth factor beta family signaling in cardiac and renal remodeling.

Mission

In addition to fundamental discovery, a major objective of the CBRC is to translate these discoveries into novel therapeutic targets to limit the onset and progression of cardiovascular disease. The CBRC maintains a highly collaborative environment with rich areas of cross-pollination with the vascular biology research center and center for translational pharmacology and genomics. Strong relationships between the CBRC, the Surgical and Interventional Research Laboratories (SIRL), the Cardiovascular Biobank and the CardioVascular Center have accelerated translational of several fundamental discoveries into large animal models and subsequently into early phase clinical trials.

Use of technology for advancement

The CBRC employs a wide variety of cutting-edge technology and pioneering techniques to achieve its core mission of fundamental discovery. A central CBRC resource is the Mouse Physiology Core, which conducts advanced hemodynamic studies involving non-surgical univentricular and biventricular pressure-volume loop analysis, electrophysiologic mapping, univentricular and biventricular pacing, 3D and strain imaging echocardiography, murine cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, and isolated Langendorf cardiac preparations. The mouse core also performs multiple models of cardiac injury in mice including: thoracic and pulmonary artery banding, pharmacologically induced pulmonary and systemic hypertension, acute myocardial infarction, coronary ischemia-reperfusion injury, renal ischemia-reperfusion injury, unilateral ureteral obstruction, and arterio-vascular shunts.

The CBRC also maintains a rich library of transgenic mouse models for constitutive and inducible manipulation of genetic targets. In collaboration with the SIRL, the CBRC also studies large animal models of coronary ischemia-reperfusion injury and rapid unipolar or bipolar pacing. This unique resource provides investigators with full interventional or cardiac surgical capabilities to study the biologic impact of device-based approaches for heart failure including mechanical circulatory support devices. CBRC investigators have also developed techniques for isolation of atrial and ventricular myocytes, fibroblasts, and Purkinje cells and have expertise in in vitro ischemia-reperfusion injury, cyclic mechanical stretch and strain studies, and single-cell RNA-seq analysis. In summary, the fertile and nurturing environment of the CBRC enables investigators to focus on translating fundamental discoveries into novel therapeutic and diagnostic approaches for millions of individuals suffering from cardiovascular disease worldwide.