Heart Institute Research

The Heart Institute of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative clinical and laboratory research initiatives. Our researchers and clinicians work side-by-side to study clinically relevant cardiovascular problems in search of innovative solutions that will improve the lives of patients.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is one of the Heart Institute’s primary areas of research focus. The most common of all birth defects, CHD affects 0.8% of newborns – nearly 40,000 babies born in the United States each year. As a result of improved diagnoses and advanced surgical techniques, there are now 2.4 million people living with CHD in the U.S., and our research programs seek to improve their lives.

From Lab to Bedside

Our research studies, many of which are sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and industry partners, are focused on delivering the best patient outcomes for our patients, families, and communities. Our most successful research initiatives begin with basic science discoveries in the laboratory. Then, in partnership with our clinical researchers, we bring our innovation to the bedside.

An example can be found in our investigations of congenital cardiovascular malformations. These represent one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in children and adults, yet it remains unclear how many congenital cardiovascular malformations occur. Our research laboratories investigate the physiology and biomechanics of developing cardiovascular systems in animal models and stem cells to better understand the structural and functional maturation of the normal heart and blood vessels and the causes of CHD. This knowledge is then further explored through our numerous clinical studies focused on CHD.

Unique Collaborations

Through a unique collaboration, the Pediatric Institute for Heart Regeneration and Therapeutics, scientists and physicians from UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh are pursuing groundbreaking investigations into how to make heart cells, called cardiomyocytes, replicate and proliferate to help the heart to heal itself in cases of heart failure or congenital defects.

Interactions between mother and fetus may also contribute to altered heart development. To better understand these interactions, we investigate maternal and embryonic/fetal cardiovascular function in animal models using high-resolution ultrasound and other advanced techniques.

In our research labs we also study cardiovascular structure and function in animal models as part of our evaluation of novel therapies using cells, advanced materials, medical devices, and software to help in the treatment of congenital and acquired heart disease.


Clinical Studies

Adults with Congenital Heart Disease Awaiting Cardiac Transplantation

Late Outcomes and Survival in Adults with Congenital Heart Disease Awaiting Cardiac Transplantation II

Read more

Aortic Coarctation Treatment Comparison Study

Comparison between Surgical vs. Balloon Angioplasty vs. Intravascular Stent Placement for Recurrent or Native Coarctation of the Aorta

Read more

Atrial Switch Procedure Database Study

Atrial Switch Database for Transposition of Great Arteries

Read more

Cardiac Biomarkers Generated in Children and Adolescents when Exercising

Effect of Exercise on Serum Cardiac Biomarker Levels in Children and Adolescents

Read more

Heart Regeneration in Tetralogy of Fallot

Mechanistic Clinical Trial of Beta-blocker Administration for Reactivating Cardiomyocyte Division in Tetralogy of Fallot

Read more

Kawasaki Disease/COVID-19 Research Registry

The Association of Kawasaki Disease and COVID-19 with Cardiac Complications: A Focused Sub-study of the International Kawasaki Disease Registry (IKDR)

Read more

Neurocognitive Impact of Surgical Re-intervention for Congenital Heart Disease

Neurocognitive Function of Adolescents and Young Adults with Repaired Complex Congenital Heart Disease After Recent Cardiac Re-Interventions: A Pilot Study

Read more

Patent Ductus Arteriosus Closure with MVP™ Plug: A Retrospective Review

Retrospective Review of PDA Closure with Medtronic MVP™ Micro Vascular Plug in Patients Weighing Less Than Two Kilograms

Read more

Pediatric & Congenital Heart Disease with Heart Failure – Treatment with Advanced Cardiac Therapies: The ACTION Project

Advanced Cardiac Therapies Improving Outcomes Network (ACTION) to Improve the Health of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease Patients with Heart Failure

Read more

Pediatric Heart Transplant Immunosuppressive Therapy Comparing Two Regimens: The TEAMMATE Study – Phase III

Clinical Trial Comparing Everolimus and Low-Dose Tacrolimus to Tacrolimus and Mycophenalate Mofetil at 6 Months Post Heart Transplant to Prevent Long-Term Complications after Pediatric Heart Transplantation

Read more

Pregnancy & Congenital Heart Disease

Prognosis of Pregnant Women with Congenital Heart Disease

Read more

Pulmonary Arteriovenous Malformation Causes Study

ALK1 Signaling in Development of Superior Cavopulmonary Anastomosis-Associated Pulmonary Arteriovenous Malformations

Read more

Pulmonary Blood Flow Treatment with Stent versus Shunt

Ductal Stenting vs. Surgical Shunt for Infants with Duct Dependent Pulmonary Blood Flow

Read more

Pulmonary Valve Stenosis Identification Before Birth

Fetal Predictors of Pulmonary Valve Stenosis and Determining Post-Delivery Management

Read more

Pulmonary Vein Stenosis Study

Pulmonary Vein Stenosis: Disease Mechanisms and Outcomes

Read more

Supraventricular Tachycardia Management – A Treatment Comparison Study

Calcium Channel Blockers versus Beta Blockers in the Chronic Management of SVT in Pediatric Subjects without Pre-excitation Syndrome or Hemodynamically Significant Heart Disease

Read more

Transplant EBV Disease Study

Transplant Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) Disease – Pathogenesis and Immunotherapy

Read more