Laboratory of Dr. Heinrich Taegtmeyer

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The past decade has taught us that heart muscle cells have a plasticity previously not known. Cells may be reprogrammed and this process is not well understood. Dr. Taegtmeyer’s lab has continued its successful work on metabolic mechanisms, which promote the “self-renewal” or structural and functional remodeling of the heart in response to stress. The lab has found that specific metabolite signals regulate the breakdown of damaged or old (dysfunctional) proteins and synthesis of new (functional) proteins, as much as they regulate the heart’s response to diabetes and obesity. This fundamental work offers new concepts for the prevention and treatment of heart disease. The lab has a new NIH R01 in addition to an ongoing multi cycle R01.

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Shiraj Sen and Dr. Taegtmeyer

Laboratory of Dr. Hyunggun Kim

Dr. Kim’s lab is focused on developing advanced experimental and computational techniques to evaluate heart valve function. The lab recently received a new investigator R01 from the NIH to develop a novel computational technique combining 3D echocardiography with finite element and fluid-structure interaction analyses to evaluate the effects of mitral valve morphology (normal vs. diseased valves, and pre- vs. post-repair) on mitral valve function.

Dr. Kim also recently joined a 5-year international collaborative research project funded by the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy of South Korea to develop an advanced high frequency intravascular ultrasound system. Dr. Kim has been studying on a number of active NIH projects to develop molecular ultrasound imaging techniques to determine and visualize development of atherosclerosis, and therapeutic gas delivery strategies for neuroprotection following stroke using targeted echogenic immunoliposomes in collaboration with other labs led by Drs. McPherson and Huang.

Dr. Kim earned his PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering at The University of Iowa. In July 2005, he was recruited to the Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute, Northwestern University as a Research Engineer. Dr. Kim joined McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in September 2006 as an Assistant Professor, and is now an Associate Professor.

The Laboratory of Drs. Patrick Kee and Delia Danila

The lab’s research interests are in atherobiology and molecular imaging of atherosclerosis. This research focuses on cutting edge technologies to reveal biomarkers expressed in atheroma, identify high affinity homing ligands for molecular imaging of atherosclerosis and formulate novel contrast agents for CT imaging of the vulnerable plaques and myocardial infarction.

With an American Heart Association funded grant, their current trial focuses on the development of gold nanoparticles for evaluating scar burden in ischemic cardiomyopathy.

Past projects include:

  • in vivo biopanning for screening and identifying biomarkers in association with atheroma
  • Development of new classes of targeted colloidal metal-based CT contrast agents to quantitate myocardial scar burden in the setting of myocardial infarction.
  • Development of iodine-loaded liposomal CT contrast agent for non-invasive CT-based imaging macrophage activities in the atheroma.

In collaboration with Dr. David McPherson the lab is conducting t pre-clinical studies that focus on the development of targeted echogenic immunoliposomes for targeted imaging and drug delivery in atherosclerosis.

The Laboratory of Dr. Emil Martin

Dr. Martin’s research focus is on the evaluation of the Nitric Oxide (NO) receptor soluble Guanylyl Cyclase (sGC). Since sGC plays an important role in cardiovascular physiology and is an important therapeutic target, they are interested in uncovering new methods of NO-independent regulation of sGC. The lab investigates the mechanisms of sGC regulation both by NO-dependent and NO-independent processes. It is investigated how cellular metabolites and interacting proteins in modulate the activity of  cellular sGC and its response to NO and other regulators. In searching for new NO-independent modulators of sGC it was determined that several drugs currently used in clinic have off-label effects and at certain concentrations may activate or inhibit sGC.

Dr. Martin’s group has identified a new class of compounds that activate sGC through a novel mechanism and are now pursuing the studies to understand the mechanistic details of this regulation. These studies may yield new pharmacological agents or therapeutic approaches that target physiological function of sGC.

The Laboratory of Dr. Iraida G. Sharina

Dr. Sharina’s research focuses on understanding the genetic basis of NO/cGMP signaling, and the mechanisms of regulation of the expression of human sGC genes.  The lab is currently investigating the importance of sGC splicing for regulation of NO/cGMP signaling in human vascular function.

The present findings have demonstrated that the splicing of sGC subunits is modulated by increased H2O2 and NO levels.  Alternative splicing is a potential new mechanism modulating sGC expression in diseased atherosclerosis.

The Laboratory of Dr. Ana Maria Zaske

Dr. Zaske is responsible of the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) core facility. This facility offers expertise to process topographical imaging of biological and non-biological samples in air or liquid environments.  The AFM instrument is equipped with high-resolution capacitive sensors that allow imaging at the nanoscale. The micromechanical properties of the sample surface (elasticity, stiffness and roughness) can also be determined. A range of samples, from living cells down to single molecules, can be characterized. The Core uses a BioScope™ II atomic force microscope (Bruker Corporation, Santa Barbara, CA) that requires minimal sample preparation. The BioScope II is integrated to a Nikon TE2000 inverted optical microscope to simultaneously acquire bright-field and fluorescence images. The Bioscope™ II Scanning Microscope has been specifically designed to address the needs of biological and medical investigations, which enhances its popularity in the field.

Colin Barker HVI 6