Cardiology Research Highlights

Dallas Heart Study

One of the most significant events in the North Texas region over the past decade, and perhaps the most far-reaching, has been the start-up and ongoing work of the Dallas Heart Study (DHS) at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The early results of the study, led by Helen Hobbs, M.D., are transforming cardiovascular risk factor identification and management for physicians and leading to better care for patients.

The groundbreaking cardiovascular study, the largest ever performed in North Texas, featured more than 6,000 ethnically diverse participants from Dallas County. Although relatively new among large epidemiology studies, the DHS has rapidly become notable due to several major discoveries and the publication of more than 80 papers that have implications for cardiovascular disease prevention.

Researchers have:

  • Identified new genetic factors that contribute to heart disease
  • Learned that African Americans are two to three times more likely to have high blood pressure
  • Determined that lowering LDL cholesterol earlier in life helps protect against heart disease
  • Recently reported that circulating markers of low-level cardiac injury are prevalent in our society

Learn more about the Dallas Heart Study.

Generating New Cardiac Muscle Cells

Three UT Southwestern researchers are studying the development and mechanisms of generating new cardiac muscle cells to see if stem cells from the heart itself can lead the heart to regenerate after injury. Drs. Jay Schneider, Joseph Hill, and Eric Olson say their investigations could significantly help advance the understanding of stem cells’ role in heart disease and repair, leading to new ways to care for patients with heart attacks or congestive heart failure by stimulating heart cell regeneration.

“The goal is to use small molecules and microRNAs as probes to understand the barriers that prevent the human heart from repairing itself after injury,” Dr. Schneider said. “By doing so, we hope to develop new therapeutics that will overcome these barriers and induce the human heart to regenerate after injury.”

Cardiology Clinical Research Database

The Cardiology Clinical Research Database (CCRD) is a research program sponsored by the Division of Cardiology. The CCRD is a large repository of clinical data and blood samples from a population of cardiology patients for use in emerging research in cardiovascular science.

The CCRD was designed to properly maintain an expanding research portfolio of scientific projects for the Division of Cardiology in a cost-effective manner. We use health information and blood samples for cardiovascular and metabolic disease research for new research. Centralizing such an effort allows for the proper management of research funding from grantors and researchers already being expended unnecessarily in many cases. The CCRD provides UT Southwestern cardiovascular researchers a toolset by which new scientific research can be derived and maintained through the lifecycle of each project.

The program team assists researchers affiliated with the program in areas of grant submission and protocol management, scientific planning, project/portfolio management, and building clinical trial studies aiding in the development of leading edge science and the generation of new proposals and publications. The CCRD aids in the research of cardiovascular diseases by collecting, processing, and banking specimens and additional research information in a prospective format. This resource provides access to specimens that researchers may otherwise not be able to obtain.

Other Areas of Study

  • Pathological cardiac remodeling
    • Myocyte hypertrophy
    • Myocyte atrophy
    • Autophagy and protein quality control
    • Ischemia/reperfusion injury
  • Electrophysiological remodeling
    • Ca handling
    • Fibrosis
    • Multiple clinical trials
  • Therapy for reperfusion injury
    • Animals
    • Patients
  • Onco-Cardiology
    • Mechanisms of cancer chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity
    • Myocardial regeneration