Penn Cardiovascular Institute

Kawut Lab

Contact the Lab

Steven M. Kawut, MD, MS

Steven M. Kawut, MD, MS
Principal Investigator

Steven M. Kawut, MD
Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Perelman School of Medicine
718 Blockley Hall
423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021


For the past decade, the Kawut Lab has focused on the clinical epidemiology of pulmonary arterial hypertension and right ventricular function. In this role, the Lab has performed multicenter studies of clinical and genetic risk factors for a variety of pulmonary vascular diseases. Dr. Kawut was the first to show that female sex was a risk factor for portopulmonary hypertension, one of the only forms of pulmonary arterial hypertension associated with a comorbidity with a sex predilection. Moreover, one of the first high-throughput gene analyses in pulmonary hypertension was performed at the Kawut Lab, an effort that demonstrated that variants in aromatase and estrogen receptor genes were risk factors for portopulmonary hypertension.

More recently, the Kawut Lab was the site of the first NIH-funded clinical trial focused on the use of aspirin and simvastatin to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. While these drugs had the expected biochemical effects, there was no impact on disease outcomes or quality of life.

The Kawut Lab has had a longstanding interest in right ventricular morphology and response to disease. The group has studied the determinants (and impact) of right ventricular structure and function in healthy individuals and in those with advanced pulmonary vascular disease, showing that sex and race have important effects. Recent work has demonstrated that right ventricular hypertrophy in individuals without clinical cardiovascular disease at baseline increase the risk of heart failure or cardiovascular death.

Research Projects

The Kawut Lab is the site of federally-funded clinical trials in pulmonary arterial hypertension and other forms of pulmonary vascular disease. Current research projects include:

Pulmonary Vascular Complications of Liver Disease (PVCLD2) (R01HL113988)- This is a multicenter cohort study of patients undergoing liver transplantation evaluation to understand the role of estrogen in determining the risk of portopulmonary hypertension. The PVCLD study group performed the first multicenter epidemiologic study of the clinical risk factors for portopulmonary hypertension (PPHTN) in patients with severe liver disease and portal hypertension. Using a case-control design (well-suited to study this rare disease), the group demonstrated that females with liver disease have a higher risk than males of developing PPHTN.

MESA-RV (R01HL086719) – The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) is a multicenter prospective cohort study designed to investigate the prevalence, correlates, and progression of subclinical cardiovascular disease in Whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Chinese individuals without clinical cardiovascular disease at baseline. The MESA-Right Ventricle Study is an ancillary study that measured right ventricular morphology in 4,204 MESA participants with interpretable cardiac MRIs at the baseline examination.

Clinical trial of anastrozole in pulmonary arterial hypertension (K24-HL103844)- This is a double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase II clinical trial of the efficacy of inhibition of aromatase in patients with pulmonary vascular disease. The study will evaluate how well the drug is tolerated and whether anastrozole effects estradiol (E2) hormone levels, a sex hormone, and improves the function of the lower right chamber of the heart (right ventricle).


  • Mamta Patel, RN
  • Diane Pinder, BS
  • Tim Aikens, BA

Selected Publications

The Kawut Lab of the Penn Cardiovascular Institute publishes the findings of its clinical research in the nation's leading clinical journals.

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