Researchers Finding New Ways to Fight Heart Disease

October 16, 2013

Cardiovascular researchers at the NCRC are practicing cutting-edge science that uses stem cells to create new heart muscle and focus on the crucial squeezing action of the heart.

Dr. Eric Devaney, associate professor of cardiac surgery, and, Todd Herron, assistant research professor of Internal Medicine in the Center for Arrhythmia Research, are the first of about 60 researchers from U-M’s Cardiovascular Center moving to the NCRC.

Devaney and Herron’s research is in the molecular biology of heart failure. By accelerating the motor protein myosin, which drives cardiac contraction, they are trying to improve function of the failing heart. There are many strategies for the treatment of heart failure, but Devaney and Herron’s approach is unique in that it focuses on the molecular motor itself.

Prior to moving to the NCRC, Devaney and Herron often worked together on research, but their labs were at different locations in Ann Arbor, about 10 miles apart.

“A long drive between labs was an impediment to close collaboration,” Devaney says. “Proximity leads to creative thinking and collaboration. The opportunity to work hand-in-hand with other researchers will help us think about science in a different way. The university is lucky to have a place where you can have a critical mass of talent and interest.”

The cardiovascular researchers will receive about $20 million in research funding over the next five years, primarily from the National Institutes of Health.

“This research will change the way we treat heart rhythm around the world. You bring the brightest people into a place with the best technology and magic can happen,” says Dr. David Pinsky, chief of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and director of the Cardiovascular Center, which is orchestrating the move.

The cardiovascular researchers were the first lab-based researchers to move to the NCRC. The resources available here will enhance the important cardiovascular research already underway.