Penn Cardiovascular Institute

Myocyte Biology and Heart Failure Research Program at Penn

Co-Directors: Lee Sweeney, PhD and Ken Marguiles, MD

The Myocyte Biology and Heart Failure Research Program at the Penn Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) in Philadelphia is focused on congestive heart failure and the pathophysiology of myocardial remodeling.

Researching Heart Failure Treatments at Penn

This program encompasses basic, translational and clinical trial studies performed by individuals and teams from a variety of disciplines. The program's structure encourages discoveries in the genetic and environmental mechanisms that contribute to variations in disease progression, patient symptoms and therapeutic responses observed in heart failure patients.

Developing New Treatments at Penn for Heart Failure

The thematic focus on myocardial remodeling includes post-infarction remodeling, valvular heart disease, reverse remodeling and targeted therapeutics to modulate these processes. Other prominent research themes include regulation of myocardial contractility, transcriptional control of myocardial adaptations, biology of endogenous myocardial repair, integrated genetic/genomic analyses of human heart to identify new therapeutic targets, myocardial gene therapy and heart failure disease management. A common feature of all this research is developing therapeutic strategies based on the improved understanding of disease mechanisms and the distinctions among patients' genotypes or phenotypes.

The basic and translational laboratories within the Myocyte Biology and Heart Failure Research Program include established expertise and infrastructure in the areas of myocardial physiology, preclinical pharmacology and device testing, animal models of hypertrophy and heart failure, transcriptional profiling, and molecular genetics. Established animal models of acquired heart disease, extensive in vitro and in vivo phenotyping capacity and substantial access to human tissue obtained at transplantation or organ donation permit research related to virtually any area of myocardial biology. 

Linking Heart Failure Research to Clinical Programs at Penn

In addition to the program unit's preclinical research expertise and resources, it is integrated into clinical research with the Penn Heart Failure and Transplant Program, a large clinical enterprise. This integration allows for involvement in a wide variety of clinical trials and registries.  Three large ongoing efforts further empower diverse research inquiries:

  • The Penn Heart Failure cohort study includes more than 2,000 genotyped and well-characterized patients with heart failure and provides rich opportunities for identifying modulators of disease risk and therapeutic responses, new biomarkers and opportunities for targeted interventional studies.
  • The Human Heart Tissue Bank includes a growing biorepository of more than 10,000 samples from more than 400 patients.  This resource is linked to a relational database that allows for human tissue research within and beyond this program unit.
  • Penn's membership in both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Heart Failure Clinical Research Network and the NIH Cardiothoracic Surgery Network provides unique access to proof-of-concept trials and promising therapeutics for our faculty, trainees and patients.

Active collaborations with the electrophysiologycardiothoracic surgerycardiac imaging and nursing research programs at Penn further extend the scope of this clinical research enterprise.