Monday, December 5, 2016

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A Shift in Heart Research

SDSU researchers continue to improve modern heart research.

Earlier this month, the ever-youthful Dick Clark became the latest celebrity to die of cardiac arrest, a grim reminder that heart disease is still the number one cause of death and hospitalization in America.

Though scientists haven’t managed to find a cure for this pervasive killer, they have identified promising new ways to prevent and treat heart disease.

Mark Sussman and a student researcher

Innovative discoveries

At the SDSU Heart Institute, researchers led by Mark Sussman, Ph.D., are exploring non-invasive remedies to restore heart muscle damaged during cardiac arrest. These remedies are based on recent discoveries that heart cells can regenerate, and Sussman and his team are working to help the cells regenerate faster and stronger.

“This is a huge shift in the way medicine is done,” said Sussman. “We essentially want to retrain transplant surgeons from replacing the entire heart and show them how to repair a heart with stem cells from the patient’s own body.”

Next door at the Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center, Roberta Gottlieb, M.D., and Scott Kelley, Ph.D., study the link between periodontal disease and atherosclerosis, the potentially deadly buildup of plaque in the arteries. Another SDSU professor, Christopher Glembotski, Ph.D., creates prototypes for the development of novel heart disease treatments.

Both the BioScience Center and the Heart Institute are hubs of faculty collaboration and student learning. Working in teams, SDSU faculty share ideas and discoveries that can result in new avenues of research.

The power of the campaign

The Campaign for SDSU will strengthen the university’s research credentials by establishing endowed faculty chairs such as the Frederick G. Henry Chair in Life Sciences, which allowed SDSU to recruit Dr. Gottlieb in 2008.

Carefully managed endowments enable SDSU to offer students opportunities to learn from leading scholars.

“A strong faculty is the key to serving our students well,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. “Increasing endowed chairs through private support is a priority of The Campaign for SDSU.”