American Heart AssociationCongenital heart disease, genes involved in thoracic aortic disease and virtual models of mitral valves are among the topics that experts from McGovern Medical School presented in conferences, exhibits, and posters at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2015 in Orlando.

An exhibit of the great arteries involved in congenital heart disease, “Complete Transposition – 3D Echo and Anatomy,” was presented for three days by a team of McGovern cardiologists in conjunction with renowned cardiac pathologist Dr. Saroja Bharati, of Advocate Children’s Hospital, Oak Lawn, Ill.

McGovern Medical School faculty participating in the exhibit include Dr. David McPherson, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; Dr. Gurur Biliciler-Denktas, assistant professor of cardiology in the Department of Pediatrics; Dr. Poyee “Pansy” Tung, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine; Dr. Susan Laing, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine; and Beverly Smulevitz, medical sonographer.

Dr. Siddharth Prakash, assistant professor of genetics, moderated a seminar, “Management of Thoracic Aortic Diseases,” and Dr. Dianna Milewicz, director of the Division of Medical Genetics, presented on the genetics of the disease during the session.

Milewicz is the senior author on two more genetic studies on thoracic aortic disease that will be presented, including a landmark study by the international Montalcino Aortic Consortium. She is an author on additional studies, including one comparing angiotensin II receptor blocker versus beta-blocker therapy in children with Marfan syndrome.  She also spoke in a special symposium on how genetic testing alters the care of patients with cardiovascular diseases.

Prakash also presented a poster about DNA alterations linked to the occurrence of a bicuspid aortic valve and how they affect cardiac development genes.

McGovern researchers led by Dr. Hyunggun Kim, associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, have been working on a new technology that creates a patient-specific 3-D mitral valve model, which allows them to perform virtual repair simulations. This virtual strategy has the potential for improved pre-surgical planning to optimize post-repair mitral valve function.

Other McGovern presenters at the conference include Dr. Igor Gregoric, professor in the Advanced Heart Failure Program; Dr. Anthony Estrera, professor of cardiothoracic surgery; Dr. Heinrich Taegtmeyer, professor of cardiothoracic medicine; Dr. K. Lance Gould, professor and Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished University Chair in Heart Disease; Dr. Tom Nguyen, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of minimally invasive valve surgery; and Dr. Shao-Ling Huang, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine.

The American Heart Association hosted Scientific Sessions Nov. 7-11. It attracts nearly 18,000 attendees from around the world.