At the World Medical Innovation Forum on May 1, early career faculty will deliver rapid-fire presentations highlighting compelling new discoveries and insights that will be the cardiovascular care innovations of the future. We asked speakers from BWH to give us a sneak peek about what they’ll be presenting and what to expect from this year’s forum. More information on the World Medical Innovation Forum can be found here.

“The work I’ll be highlighting focuses on patients with exercise dysfunction, a disorder that is associated with poor clinical outcomes. We applied a network based analysis to data from a large cohort of patients and identified previously unrecognized relationships between exercise variables. With this new information, we could then classify patients into novel groups that correspond to significant differences in clinical outcomes. Applying this approach to other cardiovascular and medical diseases could point the way to the development of patient-specific therapies (i.e., precision medicine).”

-Bradley Maron, MD, Cardiovascular Medicine; co-director, Pulmonary Vascular Disease Center at the VA Boston Healthcare System


“Aortic stenosis due to calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD) is a major health problem in aging societies and is on the rise as the population ages. If left untreated, CAVD has a poor prognosis, inevitably leading to death. However, no medical therapies are available for CAVD. Our current research aims at discovering novel therapeutic targets for CAVD. The cross-disciplinary collaboration among clinical and basic scientists at BWH has utilized cutting-edge techniques, including proteomics, transcriptomics, single cell analysis and multi-dimensional network analysis to establish the CAVD Discovery Pipeline and create an integrated map of human CAVD. The results of this effort will permit selection of personalized treatment options and lead to development of therapeutics, imaging and laboratory probes that will empower CAVD research, diagnosis and therapy.”

-Elena Aikawa, MD, PhD, the Center for Excellence in Vascular Biology; director, Vascular Biology Program at the Center for Interdisciplinary Sciences


“My talk will be about using biochemistry and in vitro reconstitution (reconstructing biological processes in a test tube) to understand the fundamental mechanism by which transcription factors control gene expression which in turn defines the stem cell fate. The knowledge gained may provide new insights into how stem cells can be turned into clinically relevant adult cell types for replacement therapy or disease modeling, and how impairment of these transcription factors can lead to human diseases and disorders.”

-Yick Fong, PhD, Brigham Regenerative Medicine Center


“Emerging studies from our laboratory and others have begun to identify non-coding RNAs as playing a critical role in proinflammatory (promoting inflammation) and angiogenic (forming new blood vessels) signaling pathways relevant to a range of cardiovascular disease states. Our recent studies highlight an important cell-specific role for a particular microRNA known as miR-181b. This microRNA appears to influence inflammatory responses in the vessel wall for both acute (e.g., sepsis) and chronic vascular disease states (e.g., atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, and obesity). We have also discovered roles of miRNAs involved in ischemic cardiovascular disease where tissues have insufficient blood supply. Collectively, an understanding of the role of miRNAs and lncRNAs in the vascular endothelium may provide novel therapeutic opportunities for controlling a range of ischemic cardiovascular diseases.”

-Mark Feinberg, MD, Cardiovascular Medicine


“My talk focuses on how we can use zebrafish as an innovative model for studying heart failure. Because zebrafish are transparent and develop rapidly, we can use them to study the interactions between genes and phenotype in ways that aren’t possible with mammalian models or cell-based cultures. Specifically, I will talk about the recent efforts of the MacRae lab to model distinct forms of heart disease in zebrafish and screen a large collection of compounds to search for those that can remedy these conditions. Finally, I will address how this platform and the reproducible success of this strategy has the potential to pave the way for more efficient development of specific therapies that can accurately and effectively target the root cause of heart conditions.”

-Manu Beerens, PhD, Cardiovascular Medicine