Congenital Heart Research

Congenital Heart Program Congenital Heart Research
Congenital Heart Research

Researchers in NYU Langone’s Congenital Heart Program investigate new approaches for diagnosing and treating patients with congenital heart conditions. Our basic research and clinical trials lead to novel treatment strategies that can reduce morbidity and mortality and improve quality of life.

We focus on improving our understanding of the heart’s anatomy and function in congenital heart conditions, using new technologies to improve diagnosis and treatments and cultivating new and improved strategies for surgery and other treatments.

Our investigators have developed new cardiac devices, surgical procedures, and cardiac imaging technologies, such as three-dimensional virtual reality platforms and printing.

Cardiac Surgery Research

Ralph S. Mosca, MD, has studied the use of three-dimensional printing and airway virtual reality to precisely assess preintervention anatomy. He and his colleagues developed a surgical device to manage functional tricuspid valve regurgitation and optimized three-dimensional virtual reality platforms for intraoperative planning.

Sunil P. Malhotra, MD, and his colleagues developed neuroprotective strategies in pediatric cardiac surgery, implemented three-dimensional simulation for congenital heart surgery, and studied the impact of ischemic arrest on pulmonary valve implantation in congenital heart disease.

Biochemistry and Cardiovascular Disease Research

Our researchers investigate electrical phenomena that can lead to or malfunction in cardiovascular disease. William A. Coetzee, DSc, and his laboratory investigate the role that the human heart’s ion translocators play in the innate protection against cardiac ischemia. Currently, they are studying the function of a potassium channel called KATP that opens only when the heart is challenged by stress. Dr. Coetzee’s group is also working with the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner to assess the severity and relevance of genetic defects in human health and disease that are associated with unexpected sudden death in adults and infants.

Cardiac Imaging for Congenital Heart Conditions Research

Achiau Ludomirsky, MD, and his colleagues have developed a core neural network system using artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms to automatically assess and analyze cardiac images. They have incorporated this system into a handheld ultrasound device to add diagnostic cardiac capabilities for healthcare providers and developed a navigation system to guide nonspecialist healthcare providers in achieving appropriate imaging views. Dr. Ludomirsky and his team are assessing whether this system can identify congenital heart disease using cardiac ultrasound data, beginning with ventricular septal defects. They are developing new Doppler algorithms to evaluate cardiac systolic and diastolic function in patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and assessing the significance of echogenic foci in the left ventricle in babies and even in the womb.

Our team also studies the natural history of pulmonary arteries after arterial switch operation and the Lecompte modification for transposition of the great arteries.

Barth Syndrome Research

Our researchers study Barth syndrome, a rare mitochondrial disease. Specifically, Colin K. Phoon, MD, and his colleagues study the biology, heart development, and functioning associated with the condition; the role of cardiolipin, a key phospholipid, in its pathogenesis; and potential therapies. They use high-frequency ultrasound to study cardiovascular disease and focus on the adverse effects of air pollution on the fetal heart; are developing a model of autoantibody-mediated heart block and cardiomyopathy; and study the roles of TGF-ß in the pathogenesis of Marfan syndrome. Dr. Phoon and his team are also developing new ultrasound technologies for rendering high-resolution images of the mouse heart.

Michael Schlame, MD, and his colleagues use cellular and animal models to study the mechanism of Barth syndrome, which is caused by mutations in the tafazzin gene. Their research aims to identify the mechanism of the tafazzin deficiency that causes cardiolipin degradation, determine its effect on cardiomyocyte differentiation, and establish whether its inhibition improves the function of cardiac mitochondria.

Adult Congenital Heart Disease Research

Dan G. Halpern, MD, and Catherine R. Weinberg, MD, lead research in the area of adult congenital heart disease. They study the effects of exercise on adult congenital heart disease patients, the trajectory of aortic root growth from childhood into adulthood in patients with Marfan syndrome, and arrhythmia in Eisenmenger syndrome. Additional research includes pulmonary artery banding and anatomical changes per echo in congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries and the rise in defibrillation threshold after postoperative cardiac remodeling in severe Ebstein’s anomaly.

Our investigators have helped write book chapters on heart disease in pregnancy and the care of adult congenital heart disease patients in the cardiac care unit. Upcoming studies include cardiac magnetic resonance flow measurements at rest and during exercise in adult patients with congenital heart disease.

Perfusion Research

Our perfusionists, Thomas Beaulieu, CCP, and Marci Bendel, CCP, study the use of device biocompatibility and tailored circuit miniaturization to decrease blood transfusion rates. They also research the use of simulation to enhance the multidisciplinary team approach to using the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, program.

National Study Groups

Our investigators participate in the Improving Pediatric and Adult Congenital Treatment (IMPACT) project to assess prevalence, demographics, management, and in-hospital outcomes of congenital heart disease in patients who have diagnostic catheterizations and catheter-based interventions. The goal of IMPACT, an arm of the National Cardiovascular Data Registry launched by the American College of Cardiology, is to collect data that help the program measure performance and guide improvements in care and outcomes.

NYU Langone is also part of a network of 60 pediatric cardiology care centers across the United States that seek to dramatically improve outcomes in children with cardiovascular disease. This includes improving survival and quality of life between the first and second operation in infants with a univentricular heart.

We are involved in a national effort to monitor babies with single ventricles at home. Part of the National Pediatric Cardiology Quality Improvement Collaborative, a Johnson Center for Child Health and Development initiative, the network involves all pediatric cardiologists in North America. The program focuses on improving infant survival and reducing morbidity between two operations in infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Pediatric heart surgeons at NYU Langone are members of the Congenital Heart Surgeons’ Society (CHSS), which meets annually to discuss patient management. The group has studied cohorts of children with rare congenital anomalies, translating new knowledge into clinical practices and improving outcomes in congenital heart surgery.

Finally, we participate in the Anomalous Aortic Origin of a Coronary Artery (AAOCA) Study, a CHSS effort to develop a registry of children and young adults with AAOCA with an interarterial, intraconal, or intramural course, which helps to characterize the condition’s history and postintervention outcomes. We are also involved in the Critical Left Ventricular Outflow Tract Obstruction Study, a multi-institutional study to evaluate emerging therapies for this condition.

Research Support

Our nurse practitioners support our efforts by assisting our researchers and clinicians during clinical trials.

Catherine Bull, PNP-BC
Manager, Congenital Cardiac Surgical Services
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
catherine.bull@nyumc.org

Andrea Behrman, CPNP-AC
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
andrea.behrman@nyumc.org

Lauren Charters, CPNP-AC
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
lauren.charters@nyumc.org

Kristine Clabby, CPNP-AC
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
kristine.clabby@nyumc.org

Amanda Fuentes, CPNP-AC
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
amanda.fuentes@nyumc.org

Elizabeth Jasper, CPNP-AC
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
elizabeth.jasper@nyumc.org

Amanda Kazior, CPNP-AC
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
amanda.kazior@nyumc.org

Maureen Pedicino, CPNP-AC
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
maureen.pedicino@nyumc.org

Diane Reformina, FNP-BC
Division of Pediatric Cardiology
diane.reformina@nyumc.org

Abigail Walsh, CPNP-AC
Division of Pediatric Cardiology
abigail.walsh@nyumc.org