Major Research Areas

HeRO Research spans several different cardiac fields. Learn more about what cutting-edge research our investigators are doing here.

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Regenerative and Nanomedicine Technologies

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HeRO investigators are working on ground-breaking research to provide cellular and nano-level therapies for various cardiac disorders including congenital heart disease (CHD).

CHD often results in right ventricular heart failure (RVHF), a major player in birth-defect related mortality. Dr. Michael Davis's team have been investigating the use of stem-cell laden cardiac patches as an avenue to combat RVHF. They developed a patch with electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) nanofibers and embedded neonatal or child cardiac ckit+ progenitor cells to study the reparative effects of this construct.  Dr. Josh Maxwell has also been investigating ways to improve cellular therapies for CHD. Specifically, Dr. Maxwell studies the effect of electrical stimulation on the function of the same cardiac progenitor cells and its utility as a strategy for enhancing the therapeutic benefit of these cells. Find out more about Dr. Davis's work here and more about Dr. Maxwell's work here.

HeRO investigators Dr. William Mahle and Dr. Michael Davis along with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta clinicians, University of Miami and Univeristy of Maryland Medical Center teams will lead a clinical trial implanting patient-derived stem cells into the hearts of babies with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrom (HLHS). This trial will open the door for more patient-specific cellular therapies for pediatric heart diseases. Full details are available here.

Cardiac Outcomes

The researchers at HeRO are working hard to better understand the outcomes of CHD patients following different medical interventions and how these outcomes can be improved in the future.

Dr. Matthew Oster directs outcomes research activities using big data in a variety of domains among individuals with congenital heart disease, including newborn screening using pulse oximetry, neurocognitive outcomes, and long-term outcomes / quality of life across the lifespan. In addition he has led the development of PulseOxTool, a mobile app that helps providers in the screening of critical congenital heart disease. 

Dr. Lazaros Kochilas and Dr. Matthew Oster were awarded a $1.6 million Department of Defense grant to investigate the long-term outcomes of of CHD. It specifically focusses on a population-based and outcomes-based research project aiming to assess the health outcomes of individuals with congenital heart disease across their life spans. Learn more here.


Cardiac Development

HeRO members are leading cutting-edge research to better understand cardiac development and the root causes of different CHDs.


Recently, Dr. Holly Bauser-Heaton and Dr. Vahid Serpooshan developed a patient-specific 3D-bioprinted model of pulmonary artery (PA) stenosis, a common physiological abnormality in many CHDs. Their model can be used  train proceduralists and surgical teams in current interventions, as well as in developing novel therapeutic approaches to treat various vascular anomalies. The full story can be viewed here.

Another cardiac development study, led by Dr. Chunhui Xu and in partnership with NASA and CASIS, is working to understand how cardiac cells develop in space. The study is taking place on the International Space Station and will examine the effects of space's low gravity environment on the cardiac development of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The full story can be read here

Dr. Hee Cheol Cho and his group developed a small animal model for Complete atrioventricular block (CAVB) to understand disease progression and pathophysiology and also develop suitable therapies. Their adult rate model can recapitulate CAVB induced arrythmogenicity and  structural remodeling. Learn more about their work here.


Cardiac Devices

Many HeRO members are leading studies to determine if different cardiac devices can be used to assist in cardiac function and thereby significantly improve the lives of CHD patients.

Dr. William Mahle currently serves as the Study Chair for NHLBI sponsored PumpKIN (Pumps in Kids, Infants and Neonates) trial. This trial is testing the safety and feasibility of the Jarvik 2015 ventricular assist device (VAD). Dr. Mahle is also study PI or site PI in a number of other trials including the Clinical trials in organ transplantation in children (CTOTC), which is assessing the impact of donor-specific antibodies on outcomes in children who have undergone heart transplantation.

Neurodevelopmental Studies

HeRO members also investigate the role of neurodevelopment in relation to cardiac diseases. 

Dr. Erin Buckley's team is developing bedside monitors for cerebral oxygenation, perfusion and metabolism. They study near infrared spectroscopy and diffuse correlation spectroscopy and are working to develop non-invasive methods to continuously monitor brain health and initiate rehabilitative strategies.