The University of Chicago Medicine is an academic medical center where physicians and scientists are researching the newest treatments and discovering tomorrow's medical breakthroughs. We are proud to be home to one of the oldest National Institutes of Health-funded cardiovascular research programs in the nation. Our physician-scientists benefit from millions of dollars in annual research support to study heart disease. We also train tomorrow's researchers with our NIH cardiovascular training program.

All of our heart specialists are studying new ways to diagnose and treat heart problems, from state-of-the-art tests and advanced drug therapies, to sophisticated life-saving surgical procedures. In addition, many of our physician-scientists are examining basic questions in molecular biology, physiology, pharmacology and biochemistry, which, in turn, helps set the foundation for novel therapies for many forms of cardiovascular disease. Patients benefit from research therapies such as the use of cancer drugs to treat pulmonary hypertension, gene therapy, next-generation ventricular assist devices for heart failure and advanced stenting to treat aortic aneurysms.

Early Access to New Therapies

Our emphasis on translational research — or "bench to bedside" medicine — means our scientists are working to speed the pace at which new biomedical discoveries are put to effective use in patient care. Because of this standard of innovation, UChicago Medicine heart experts can often offer treatments long before they are available elsewhere.

Clinical Trials 

Our cardiologists and cardiac surgeons are always conducting clinical trials of new drug therapies, surgical procedures, heart devices, imaging techniques and more.

View a partial list of heart clinical trials under way:

Heart and Vascular Research Advancements

Our physician-scientists are actively involved in a wide range of basic science and clinical research. Scientists within the section utilize bench, outcomes and translational techniques in an effort to improve patient outcomes and prevent disease progression.

Our cardiologists work together with other sub-specialties in order to create unique therapies to better help their patients. The clinical research programs compliment these areas by providing clinical research programs in:

  • Congestive heart failure and transplantation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Interventional cardiology
  • Cardiac imaging
  • Preventative cardiology

Basic Research

We have a rich research tradition, pushing the boundaries of innovation for decades, and have uncovered basic mechanisms of cardiovascular function and diseases.

Areas of expertise within our group include:

  • Heart and vascular development
  • Mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias
  • Disorders of blood lipids
  • Mechanisms of cardiomyopathy and heart failure
  • Mechanisms of vascular spasm
  • Regenerative medicine and stem cell biology
  • Vascular biology

From these discovering, we can being to change the way we treat patients. 

Clinical Research

All aspects of cardiovascular medicine are being actively investigated by the Section. The comprehensive research is conducted in clinical areas including the outpatient and inpatient services, as well as the various subspecialty laboratory areas. The research efforts are focused on specific areas within cardiology, and the research effort is supported by study nurses and coordinators. 

  • The Preventive Cardiology programs include the early detection of cardiovascular disease in high risk individuals, detection of novel lipid abnormalities, the use of new lipid lowering agents and the role of cardiac rehabilitation.

     

  • The Heart Failure/Transplant team is actively involved in participating in various studies for heart failure and heart transplant ranging from acute decompensated heart failure, to amyloidosis of the heart, new device technologies, as well as, new avenues for detecting transplant rejection. Examples of heart failure trials include the use of investigational drugs for patients who present to the hospital with acute decompensated heart failure and/or acute decompensated heart failure with renal insufficiency. Innovative studies involving collaboration with the interventional lab and the electrophysiology lab include investigation of new device technologies to continuously monitor heart pressures for better management of heart failure on an out-patient basis. In regard to the transplant population, new ways of determining heart transplant rejection are being performed utilizing gene expression profiling.

     

  • The Interventional Laboratory team is energetically involved with the investigation of coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease, as well as, cardiac defect closure devices. Examples of trials for CAD include the investigation of new anti-coagulant drugs to prevent blood clots and/or restenosis of diseased heart vessels, in addition to a trial which investigates the use of a new drug eluding stent for CAD. With various types and degrees of peripheral artery disease, investigations utilizing the use of stenting the renal artery, which has some form of occlusion, are being pursued; as well as, new drug therapy for peripheral artery disease already undergoing the use of standard of care treatment. In conjunction with the Electrophysiology team, the lab is participating in a device trial that helps in the prevention of blood clot complications for patients with atrial fibrillation who currently takes warfarin. New technologies known as intra-vascular ultra sound (IVUS) have provided the opportunity for better visualization of the inside of the coronary arteries which has led the interventional physicians to perform individual studies utilizing this technology.

     

  • For two decades, the Echocardiography Laboratory has been a leader in the development of new imaging techniques to improve the assessment of left ventricular function and myocardial perfusion. Since 2002, when the laboratory was one of only three centers in the country to perform clinical testing of the first real-time three-dimensional echocardiography device, this group of physicians and researchers has become one of the most prominent national and international leaders in defining the clinical applications of this new technology. With the recent creation of the Cardiac Imaging Center, the group has expanded its activities into the newer imaging modalities, including cardiac magnetic resonance (MRI) and computed tomography (CT), and is currently building clinical and research programs for these modalities.

     

  • The Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology program is actively involved in several areas of investigation in the field of heart rhythm disorders. Ongoing clinical trials in the area of implantable cardiac rhythm management devices include the development of a totally subcutaneous implantable defibrillator to prevent sudden cardiac death, cardiac resynchronization pacing therapy for patients with mild to moderate heart failure, the value of remote monitoring of devices for patients with heart failure, novel coronary sinus pacing leads, and optimization of programmable pacing intervals. Examples of catheter ablation trials include the investigation of alternative ablation tools such as cryoenergy, irrigated ablation electrodes, and investigational bipolar ablation catheters to ablate permanent atrial fibrillation. The group is also studying the use of imaging modalities in the EP laboratory including fiberoptic infrared imaging and intracardiac echocardiography. Novel therapies for patients with atrial fibrillation that are being evaluated include new direct thrombin inhibitors to prevent stroke, and new antiarrhythmic drugs for both acute chemical cardioversion and maintenance of sinus rhythm. Additional nonpharmacological therapies for atrial fibrillation that are being investigated include percutaneous left atrial appendage occlusion devices.

     

  • The Clinical Genetics Program builds on the basic science investigation of genetic abnormalities leading to cardiomyopathy. Families with hereditable forms of cardiomyopathy are screened for genetic abnormalities.

Our cardiac surgeons, along with scientists in their section, are involved in basic science and clinical research to improve bench to bedside medicine for patients with cardiac disease.

Ongoing research for the following conditions:

  • Ischemia reperfusion
  • Molecular basis of heart failure
  • Transplantation

Clinical Research

  • Collaborating with industry counterparts to evaluate new heart valves, organ preservation devices and ventricular assist devices.
  • Mahesh Gupta, PhD, is looking into the molecular basis of heart failure, particularly the role of chromatin remodeling enzymes in gene dysregulation, contractile dysfunction and cell death during heart failure.

The vascular specialists at UChicago Medicine are nationally recognized for their impressive basic and clinical research. Their continuous investigations and discoveries have allowed us to provide patients with new-age therapies for difficult vascular conditions, such as:

  • Atherosclerosis and intimal hyperplasia by molecular techniques
  • Circulatory physiology
  • Ischemia and reperfusion injury
  • Endothelial cell receptor physiology

Basic Research 

Major basic research includes: intimal hyperplasia, advancing diagnostic technologies, gene therapy and prevention of restenosis.

Current research is focused on atherosclerosis, hemodynamics, intimal hyperplasia, circulatory physiology and venous hysiology. Specific projects are underway investigating the biomechanics of intimal hyperplasia, the imaging and molecular determinants of carotid atherosclerotic plaque vulnerability, and the use of HSV-1 eluting stents in the prevention of restenosis.