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Research and Innovation

Research in the division spans basic science to clinical research to population studies. Investigators focused on basic science advances have laboratory space in the Saha Cardiovascular Research Center located in the Biomedical Biological Sciences Building.  Under the direction of Alan Daugherty, PhD, DSc, the Saha CVRC is home to extramurally funded programs in:  

  • Atherosclerosis and aneurysm (Alan Daugherty, PhD, DSc; Dennis Bruemmer, MD, PhD; Vicky King, PhD; Hong Lu, MD, PhD; Venkat Subramanian, PhD)
  • Cardiac imaging (Steve Leung, MD; Vince Sorrell, MD; Brandon Fornwalt, MD, PhD)
  • Bioactive lipid mediators (Andrew Morris, PhD; Susan Smyth, MD, PhD; Ahmed Abdel-Latif, MD, MSPH)
  • Platelet function and thrombosis (Zhenyu Li, MD, PhD; Susan Smyth, MD, PhD)
  • Stem-cell biology (Ahmed Abdel-Latif, MD, MSPH) 

Many of our investigators are also engaged in studies to understand the links between obesity and cardiovascular disease.  

Research is facilitated by state-of-the-art technology for small molecule mass spectrometry (under the direction of Andrew Morris, PhD) and advance cardiovascular imaging.  Indeed, the University of Kentucky houses one of seven institutions in the country to have the state-of-the-art 7-Tesla Clinscan MRI for imaging in preclinical, animal models. Working with world leaders at the University of Virginia (Dr. Frederick Epstein’s laboratory), UK investigators have established advanced mouse cardiac MRI sequences that allow direct quantification of sub-millimeter motion from mouse hearts beating over 500 times per minute. Our Clinscan MRI has a Siemens control system identical to the MRIs used in our cardiology clinic, which facilitates direct translation of our findings in mice into a greater understanding of the human heart.

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The division supports a clinical trial section, led by Khaled Ziada, MD, and clinical research manager Jennifer Isaacs, MS, MS, CCRP. Phase I-IV drug and device clinical trials across a multitude of areas including structural heart disease, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and electrophysiology are currently in progress.

The strength of our clinical research efforts, particularly regarding innovative catheter-based approaches to heart and vascular disease, is unmatched. We lead the latest in cardiovascular treatment including renal denervation, left atrial pressure monitoring for heart failure, resorbable coronary stents and stem cell regenerative medicine.

Historically, we have been a top enroller in multicenter trials investigating novel devices for PFO closure, left atrial pressure monitoring (to treat heart failure) and ASD closure, as well as novel drugs for treatment of ACS and the prevention of secondary coronary events.

Our strength and commitment to clinical trial research increases the accessibility of state-of-the-art treatments to patients across Kentucky that would otherwise not exist in this region of the country. The University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health, places the university in an elite group of 60 biomedical research institutions poised to solve the toughest challenges in medicine and surgery using innovative approaches.