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Duke Heart Week ending February 28th 2021

Heart Highlights: Duke CVRC

To continue our celebration of accomplishments made throughout the past year, this week we are pleased to share some highlights from the Duke Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC).

The CVRC was formed in 2011 to provide an intellectual home for cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary, bench-oriented research. Their mission is to solidify, enhance and support outstanding cardiovascular research from the basic discovery end of the translational research spectrum.

  • Most of the 20 CVRC faculty members are now housed in co-localized, newly renovated research space in the CARL building, directly connected to Duke University Hospital
  • The CVRC offers a combined 33,048 square feet of lab space, giving them one of the largest spaces dedicated to basic cardiovascular research in the U.S.
  • Our CVRC investigators hold greater than $25 million in active research award funding; Duke is in the top five nationally for basic science research funding in the cardiovascular space (based on 2014-2018 data).

The CVRC’s Cardiovascular Physiology Core, launched in 2016, provides investigators with a central resource for creating and characterizing mouse models of cardiovascular disease. They offer state-of-the-art and comprehensive invasive and non-invasive cardiovascular phenotyping services. Non-invasive techniques include echocardiography, myocardial strain analyses, exercise capacity assessments, ambulatory and ECG monitoring. Invasive techniques include ex-vivo cardiac studies and in vivo pressure-volume loop analyses.

Despite research curtailment due to COVID-19, the CVRC made a number of significant accomplishments in 2020:

  • The Cardiovascular Physiology Core invested in a major equipment purchase of two new Vevo 3100 echocardiogram machines from Fujifilm.
  • Chris Holley, MD, PhD, was named Associate Director of the CVRC. The leadership team is excited for the energy and engagement he has already shown.
  • The 2020 CVRC Research Staff Appreciation Award was presented to Nour Nazo who has served the CVRC in an exemplary manner. She was nominated by Dr. Sudarshan Rajagopal.
  • Establishment of the Headley Family Award. Made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Harry and Dorothy Headley, the award supports basic cardiovascular research at Duke with an annual one-year seed grant of $25,000 targeted toward CVRC researchers who are conducting innovative research into the causes and treatment of hypertension, atherosclerosis and related cardiovascular diseases.
    • The first recipient was Sudha Shenoy, PhD. The award to Shenoy, in collaboration with Jon Campbell, PhD, of the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, is for her project ‘A novel approach to treat Diabetes Mellitus: Modulation of glucagon receptor ubiquitination.’

The CVRC partners closely with Chancellor Emeritus (and current National Academy of Medicine President) Dr. Victor Dzau regarding the relationship with the Edna and Fred L. Mandel Jr. Foundation.

  • The most recent award from the Mandel Foundation was announced in August for $899K.
  • The Mandel Scholar Award was given to Dennis Abraham, MD, for his project, Mechanosensitive TREK-1 modulates myofibroblast driven fibrosis.
  • Mandel Fellow Awards were provided to:

Qiao Zhang, PhD, mentored by George Truskey, PhD, for their project: Clinically relevant human microphysiological system disease model to investigate the effects of cellular force disruption in Cardiovascular diseases and Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome 

Gayathri Viswanathan, PhD, mentored by Sudarshan Rajagopal, MD, PhD, for their project: Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) and Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)

  • Mandel Seed Awards were provided to:

Laura Wingler, PhD, for her project: A High-Throughput Discovery Platform for Deep Mutational Scanning of GPCR Kinases

Ravi Karra, MD and Dennis Ko, MD, PhD, for their project: Genetic Regulators of Human Cardiomyocyte Proliferation

Sudha Shenoy PhD, collaborating with Jonathan Campbell, PhD (continued funding from previous year) for their project: Ubiquitin-dependent signaling bias at the glucagon family receptors and its impact on pancreatic β cell function

Congratulations to all faculty, fellows and staff members within the CVRC. You’re doing impressive work!

Heart Health in South Asians Webinar Held

On Monday, as part of ongoing educational events in February for Heart Health Awareness Month, Neha Pagidipati and Raj Swaminathan were the guest speakers for a Zoom webinar on “How to Keep Your Heart Healthy: Understanding Heart Disease & Diabetes in South Asians.” (Link includes a page of resources recommended by Pagidipati.)

Cardiovascular disease risk is alarmingly 3 to 4-fold higher in South Asians. Etiologies include genetics, unbalanced diet, and sedentary lifestyles. Strategies to reduce risk were discussed. There were a high number of registrants from around the world and many submitted thoughtful questions for the Q&A session.

The event was sponsored by the Duke Asian Alumni Alliance, Duke Triangle, and the Duke Alumni Association. To view a recording of the webinar, please visit: http://bit.ly/2Plo57S.

Shout-out to Klem & Cardiac MRI Team!

Igor Klem

Earlier in February, a patient with neurosarcoidosis who is wheelchair dependent presented for an outpatient cardiac MRI at the DMP. Unfortunately, the patient was noted to be in atrial flutter while their device was being programmed prior to the MRI, so the patient was sent to the Emergency Department instead. After converting to sinus rhythm, the consult team — led by Igor Klem — recognized that the patient did not need further inpatient care and was able to be discharged. The cardiac MRI team, including Rosemary Engel and Katina Johnson, was able to reschedule the outpatient cardiac MRI for the patient on the same day. This was immensely helpful as the patient was relying on a wheelchair transportation service to get to Duke, which would make getting the patient back on a different day for the MRI a bigger burden for the patient, according to Sean Pokorney, the outpatient provider.

“I was on the consult team with Igor that day and felt that Igor and the MRI group should be recognized for their outstanding services in patient care. Dr. Pokorney was very appreciative that the cardiac MRI was able to be done.” – Jordan Hausladen

Kudos to all team members, especially the Cardiac MRI team, for their flexibility and kindness in helping this patient get the scan done on the same day. Way to go!


Shout-out to Carlisle!

Anna Lisa Crowley and Sunil Rao shared a really nice note from a Durham VAMC patient with us this week – the patient was thankful for the care and compassion they received from first year Cardiology fellow, Matt Carlisle:

“During a cath lab visit, I was attended by one of your fellows, Dr. Matthew Carlisle. Many times I have watched interns, fellows and attending physicians sweep into a prep or recovery area, dispense with what is obviously a well-used spiel, and then they turn and vanish into a medically induced mist. I can’t blame them for failing to be more involved in the moment. Usually they offer what they have with a professional attitude, not much more, not much less.

On [this visit] I experienced one particular difference; Dr. Matthew Carlisle asked how I would like to be addressed.

I was pleased by the question and from that moment forward I knew that Carlisle, the young man from Alabama, was my sincere advocate. He was attentive to me and interacted very well with my daughter, who was my driver that day. His attitude reflected his confidence that my case would be positively resolved.

Ninety minutes later, I was more alert and oriented than I had been in weeks. Please pass along to him my sincere regards and tell him I walked 80 yards across the parking garage and when I arrived home I was able to run across the lawn.

Again, I am grateful for the skillful care of the doctors and staff within the VA Health System.” – Name withheld

Great job, Matt! Thank you for the exceptional care you provided!


ICYMI: Yapejian, Fudim Published in EHJCR

Rebecca Yapejian

Rebecca Yapejian and Marat Fudim are co-authors of “Novel findings of respiratory rate increases using the multisensor HeartLogic heart failure monitoring algorithm in COVID-19-positive patients: a case series,” published last weekend in European Heart Journal – Case Reports, Vol 5, Issue 2, February 2021.

Congratulations to both authors! We are particularly proud of this article – as it represents a wonderful collaboration across subspecialties and disciplines. According to Yapejian, a nurse practitioner with our Duke Electrophysiology team, “It was truly a great honor to know that a medical journal deemed a case series that was written by a nurse practitioner as first author worthy of publication. Furthermore, I was so proud to have Marat Fudim, MD, serve as my co-author to show how interdepartmental (EP and Heart Failure) and interdisciplinary (NP and MD) collaboration can make for great success. It’s opportunities like this that I have always hoped to achieve.”

Well done!


Head’s Up: March is…

Just a quick head’s up that nationally, March is Women’s History Month. International Women’s Day will be celebrated on Monday, March 8 and, Duke-wide, it is Employee Appreciation Month. Employee Appreciation Day is slated for Friday, March 5. Although this is a designated awareness month for appreciation, we know that showing our appreciation for employees is important all the time – so keep those shout-outs and kudos for Pulse coming our way all year long.

Reminder: Best Hospitals Survey Now Open

The U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals annual survey is open in Doximity. Voting is a great way to celebrate how Duke is leading the way in patient care, education and research, so be sure to log into Doximity by March 26th and VOTE!

Results from the reputation survey are an important component of the scoring U.S. News & World Report uses to rank the nation’s top hospitals, along with all of the work we do to provide the best care for our patients. We hope all survey-eligible team members will consider showing your pride in Duke Heart and voting for all three of Duke’s hospitals as part of your “top 5” for “Best Hospitals for Cardiology and Heart Surgery.”

How to Vote: Voting is open through March 26, 2021. To vote, physicians can visit Doximity.com or the survey page on Doximity.com. The survey will display until the physician votes or the survey closes.


COVID-19 Updates:


All the latest official DUHS information regarding coronavirus/COVID-19 response at the following locations:


Upcoming Opportunities/Save the Date:


Cardiology Grand Rounds

Mar. 2: Developing Pharmacogenomic Tools for Personalized Antithrombotic Therapy with Kevin Friede. 7:15 a.m., Webex.

Mar.9: Epidemiological Research in Cardio-Oncology – Focus on Atherosclerosis with Avirup Guha of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. 7:15 a.m., Webex.

Mar. 16: Advanced Cancer is also Heart Failure Syndrome:  Cardio-Oncology Including and Beyond Cardiotoxicity with Stefan Anker, Professor of (Tissue) Homeostasis in Cardiology & Metabolism at Charite Berlin. 7:15 a.m., Webex.

Mar. 23: If You Build It… (They) Will Come – Advanced Therapies in ACHD with Jonathan Menachem of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 5 p.m., Webex.


Conversations with Colleagues: Racial Justice

The Center for Healthcare Safety and Quality has announced a second cohort of their Conversations with Colleagues series, Racial Justice: Deeper Dive. The six- week program starts tomorrow, March 1st. The virtual sessions are available to anyone at Duke Health and Duke University.

The series is expected to be a transformative experience that focuses on exploring the origins of systemic racism, understanding our own implicit biases and learning what we can each do to have a positive impact on our local community.

The curriculum includes mixed media to engage all learning styles. Because this is a cohort based experience, attendees are asked to commit to all six weeks of the series. You will select a day and time that works for you and will be expected to attend all six sessions in that cohort. This will allow participants to build relationships with others in their group.

To register, visit bit.ly/CwCRacialJustice.


Six-Part Mental Health Webinar Series Available Through April

Mar. 3: Identifying and Managing Problematic Substance Use in Times of Stress. 4-4:30 p.m. Hosted by the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and led by assistant professor Jennifer Plumb Vilardaga, PhD. (Link below)

This is the second in a six-part webinar series, “Taking Care of Yourself and Your Loved Ones,” for all Duke University and Duke Health community members and their families. The 30-minute topical webinars provide practical expert advice on topics including emotional wellness, substance misuse, suicide prevention, and mental health for children, adolescents and teens.

The webinar series runs through April 27. Learn more, watch past webinars and join upcoming webinars:  http://bit.ly/DukeMHSeries.


Have news to share?

If you have news to share with the Pulse readership, please contact Tracey Koepke, director of communications for Duke Heart at tracey.koepke@duke.edu. We would love to hear about your latest accomplishments, professional news, cool happenings, and any events or opportunities that may be of interest to our Duke Heart family. Please call with any questions: 919-681-2868. Feedback on Pulse is welcome and encouraged.


Duke Heart in the News:


February 23: J. Antonio Gutierrez

Endovascular Today

Patient-Level VHA Data Show No Association Between Paclitaxel-Coated Devices and Long-Term Mortality


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