Cardiovascular Research Center
The hallmark feature of the Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC) is its assembly of investigators–including emerging scientists–with multidisciplinary backgrounds, a broad array of skills, and international reputations in their respective fields. The close proximity of scientists at NCRC enables these investigators to pursue projects that stimulate bench-to-bedside research.
Co-location and innovation
NCRC’s unique, collaborative environment has positioned CVRC researchers for success: in the past year, CVRC investigators have been recognized by their peers with numerous awards. Many CVRC investigators have also been awarded federal as well as industry funding to continue researching strategies to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases.
The Office of Technology Transfer and the Venture Accelerator have also increased CVRC’s entrepreneurship endeavors, leading to new inventions and patents. Support for results-based innovation is also provided by a pre-doctoral training program focused on cardiovascular research and entrepreneurship.
In addition, the Flux High Performance Computing facility provides close, friendly support of CVRC’s large scale computer modeling. The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program support has enabled the launching of a new company, CARTOX, LLC, developer of an innovative human stem cell-derived cardiac monolayer plating technology that significantly advances preclinical drug cardiotoxicity testing. And the newly-launched Michigan Biology of Cardiovascular Aging Program greatly increases the potential of CVRC to generate knowledge about the mechanisms of cardiovascular diseases and arrhythmias related to aging, including atherosclerosis, and atrial fibrillation.
CVRC represents the vanguard of medical research. Its teams at NCRC are at the forefront of:
- the development of a human heart in a dish for cardiotoxicity testing, using human stem cell derived cardiac muscle cells;
- pioneering novel large animal models for a wide range of human diseases including cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, genetic diseases and regenerative medicine;
- the Virtual Physiological Rat Project, an NIH-supported National Center for Systems Biology initiative to simulate, analyze, and predict physiological function in healthy and diseased subjects;
- the launch of an iPSC Regeneration Core;
- piloting computation systems models in improving and refining diagnosis for cardiovascular disease;
- the creation of an Animal Model Phenotyping and Preclinical Research Course;
- new strategies to treat both civilian and military trauma;
- novel high-resolution technologies to accurately map and diagnose atrial fibrillation in human patients;
- the invention of Smart Ablation, a safer way to cure cardiac arrhythmias;
- and the study of arrhythmogenic inheritable cardiac diseases associated with intracellular calcium dysfunction.
Co-location at NCRC supports the innovative approaches that allow the CVRC to shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying the development and progression of cardiovascular diseases. Their research improves understanding of the most severe arrhythmias, and is essential to the development of new drug therapies for venous thrombosis. By examining the interplay between aging and inflammation on cardiovascular health; investigating genetic and molecular mechanisms of inheritable cardiac diseases; and safely, effectively, and efficiently testing potential new drugs, CVRC is making an enormous impact on cardiovascular health.
Tools for the job
The CVRC maintains unique experimental resources, including:
- optical mapping, patch clamping, and molecular and cell biology suites;
- confocal microscopy;
- a transgenic rabbit colony;
- a state-of-the-art interventional and electrophysiology suite;
- and an induced pluripotent stem cell laboratory.
Cardiovascular Core Services at CVRC also offers the following methods of cardiovascular system measurement:
- ultrasound imaging, including assessment of cardiac performance, and vascular anatomy and function, of both small and large animal models;
- microsurgery, including aortic constriction (TAC or AAB), myocardial ischemia (LAD occlusion), and microcatheter-based approaches for measuring function and drug delivery;
- state-of-the-art phenotyping services for animal models ranging from zebrafish all the way to large animals, with a primary focus on mouse and rodent models of disease;
- and telemetry with implantable probes, for measuring EKG, blood pressure, blood glucose, temperature and activity in conscious freely moving animals.
These resources have propelled highly translational research, and developments to improve understanding and therapy for cardiovascular diseases.