Cardiology Research

Recognized nationally and internationally, the Cardiovascular Research Laboratory at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Rangos Research Center was designed to provide an environment in which researchers and clinicians could work side by side to study clinically relevant cardiovascular problems. The work here has gained worldwide respect and recognition in the field of congenital heart disease.

Congenital cardiovascular (CV) malformations represent one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in children and adults, however, it remains unclear how congenital CV malformations occur. Our research laboratories investigate the physiology and biomechanics of developing CV systems in chick and mouse embryos in order to better understand the structural and functional maturation of the normal heart and blood vessels and the causes for congenital heart disease.

Our laboratory has pioneered the integrated use of microinstruments to measure blood pressure, blood flow, and cardiac chamber dimensions in the 1 millimeter diameter embryonic heart. Because embryonic CV structural and functional maturation in chick and mouse embryos resembles human development, we can use these animal models to determine the relationship between biomechanical loading conditions and morphogenesis. For example, we have produced a model of hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) in the chick embryo by chronically reducing left ventricular filling via partial left-atrial ligation (LAL). We have also created experimental models of increased ventricular work via narrowing of the ventricular outflow tract (conotruncal banding - CTB) and by unilateral vitelline artery ligation (VAL).

In order to better understand the interactions between mother and fetus (in mammals) that may contribute to altered CV morphogenesis, we also investigate maternal and embryonic/fetal CV function in pregnant rodents using high resolution ultrasound as well as invasive techniques.

Our laboratory also serves as a core facility to determine CV structure and function in mature animals undergoing experimental protocols to evaluate
novel therapies (cells, materials, devices, software) to treat congenital and acquired heart disease.


Clinical Studies

Diane Metes, MD

Joan Sanchez-de-Toledo, MD

Adult Congenital Heart Disease Clinical Care Evaluation

Utilization and Perception of Care by Physician Extenders in the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program

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Aortic Coarctation Treatment Comparison Study

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

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Aortic Coarctation Treatment with Covered CP Stent™ – COAST II

Covered Cheatham Platinum CP Stents for the Prevention or Treatment of Aortic Wall Injury Associated with Coarctation of the Aorta (COAST II) – Continued Study Access

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Aortic Coarctation Treatment with CP Stent™ – COAST

Coarctation of the Aorta Stent Trial (COAST) – Continued Study Access

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Beta Blocker Therapy for Marfan Syndrome

Trial of Beta Blocker Therapy vs Angiotensin II Receptor Blocker Therapy in Individuals with Marfan Syndrome

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Coping with Heart Disease – A Study of Adolescents and Adults

Coping Mechanisms, Gender Difference, and Cardiovascular Risk in Adolescents and Adults with Congenital Heart Disease

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Dexmedetomidine for Sedation in Medical Procedures – Phase IV

Dexmedetomidine in Pediatric Subjects Undergoing Procedure-Type Sedation

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Fontan Procedure Physiology

Do Serum Biochemical and Hematopoietic, or Stool Biomarkers Predict Low Cardiac Index in Patients with Fontan Physiology?

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Pediatric Heart Transplant - Alloantibodies Detection

Alloantibodies: Prevalence and Impact in Pediatric Heart Transplantation

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Pediatric Heart Transplant - Alloantibodies Impact Study

Alloantibodies in Pediatric Heart Transplantation

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Pediatric Heart Transplant - Fibrosis Quantification Study

MRI Quantification of Cardiac Fibrosis after Heart Transplantation

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Sexual Dysfunction and Congenital Heart Disease – Pilot Study

Female Sexual Dysfunction Among Adults with Complex Congenital Heart Disease

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SVT Treatment with Dexmedetomidine

Dexmedetomidine vs. Adenosine: Electrophysiologic Effects and Therapeutic Use for Terminating Supraventricular Tachycardia

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Transplant EBV Disease Study

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

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Treating Atrial Septal Defects with Amplatzer

Closure of Atrial Septal Defects with the Amplatzer® Septal Occluder Post Market Study

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Additional Researchers

Li Jun Liu, MD
David Rowe, PhD
Kimimasa Tobia, MD