Several Heart Institute staffers offered their expertise in invited talks touching on a broad range of topics. Scientist Erik Suuronen, PhD, uses tissue engineering techniques to develop methods for regenerating damaged heart muscle. In his presentation, called “The Matrix: Stem Cell Delivery Platforms,” he discussed the use of enhanced collagen as a support material to encourage the retention and growth of stem cells employed to restore damaged tissue. Elsewhere at AHA, Tanja Sofrenovic, a student in his lab, presented details of their ongoing refinement of these regenerative techniques.
Electrophysiologist Dr. David Birnie joined an expert clinical panel on managing anticoagulation when implanting heart rhythm devices, such pacemakers or ICDs. Also, Dr. Birnie presented findings at the conference of a trial showing that using an algorithm to manage left-ventricular pacing in patients receiving cardiac resynchronization therapy resulted in improved heart function as well as decreased risk for death and heart failure hospitalization.
Cardiac surgeon Dr. Marc Ruel was kept busy this year. Not only active in the Heart Institute’s regenerative medicine research presented at the conference, he contributed to three seminars addressing aspects of surgical practice and the importance of surgical backup for cardiac stenting. In addition, he presented on the ongoing success of the minimally invasive coronary bypass technique that he pioneered in partnership with Dr. Joseph McGinn at Staten Island University Hospital. In total, they have now performed the surgery on more than 800 patients.
Katey Rayner, PhD, is both new to the Heart Institute and a familiar face. After doing her doctoral research at the Heart Institute, followed by post-doctoral work at Harvard University and New York University School of Medicine, she has now returned as a principal investigator. Speaking in the conference’s Early Career program under the banner “‘Hottest of the Hot’—Top Advances in Functional Genomics and Translational Biology,” she discussed her work with microRNAs to raise HDL cholesterol levels.