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Research

The division has a diverse research resume that reaches across the translational spectrum, from basic physiology, and cellular and molecular studies, to heart failure clinical trials, and disease outcome investigations.  Our goal is to help in advancing the boundaries of medical science.  A major component of our efforts also centers on exposing medical students, residents, and cardiology fellows to medical research.  By utilizing a full time faculty with significant research interests and abilities and the clinical and research resources of the University and the Hospital, we are able to provide training experience that produce well rounded clinical and research cardiologists.

Division faculty members also are involved in rigorous scientific studies at Orange County’s only University Medical Center.  With funding from the National Institutes of Health and other prestigious institutions, division investigators are engaged in a range of advanced research that includes:

  • Interventional cardiology and electrophysiology
  • Identifying subjects at high risk of developing heart attacks
  • Strategies aimed at reversing coronary disease that can lead to heart failure and preventing the progression of disease
  • Molecular cardiology involving estrogen receptors and myocardial hypertrophy
  • Health policy research focused on diabetes, heart failure and the use of imaging resources

The division’s clinical researchers work at the Cardiovascular Center at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, the VA Long Beach Health System and the Memorial Care Heart and Vascular Institute in Long Beach, which enables them to develop larger clinical trials that serve a wide geographic community.  We are also able to collaborate with researchers in UCI campus.  This leads to a successful collaboration between Dr. Patel and Dr. Chen who won the Robert Newcomb Interdisciplinary Team Science Award at UC Irvine in 2015.

A list of currently open/active extramurally funded research awards to Cardiology faculty serving as the Principal or co-investigators is shown below. 

Molecular Cardiology and Imaging Research »

Dr. Jin Kim studies how heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) die or survive from ischemia-related injury such as in myocardial infarction (heart attack) and the protective effects of estrogen in those circumstances. This knowledge can be important in devising potential therapies to save cardiomyocytes during acute heart attack or severe chronic ischemia.

Using a comprehensive approach of molecular, cellular and whole-animal models, her team has shown that the cytoprotective effect of estrogen involves inhibition of a stress-induced kinase, p38alpha, and activation of the pro-survival isoform, p38beta. This, in turn, reduces mitochondrial generation of the reactive oxygen species (ROS), forms of unstable oxygen radicals known trigger of apoptosis.

They have proposed an attractive hypothesis explaining how the p38 kinases affect the death process initiated by ROS through the downstream target of the kinase, p53, a known mediator of cell death that is generally seen enhanced in various forms of cancers. Her laboratory has highlighted how estrogen rescues cardiomyocytes by targeting this relationship.
Alternative Therapies in Cardiovascular Medicine and the Neuroregulation of Cardiac Function »
The Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine  (Shaista Malik, MD,PhD) conducts groundbreaking research describing the neurologic control of cardiac function. This laboratory, which is heavily funded by the NIH and other national organizations, is one of the rare facilities that scientifically and systematically investigates the role of acupuncture and other alternative medical strategies in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

 

Clinical and Translational Studies »

The following Division of Cardiology researchers are collaborating with UC Irvine’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Science:
  • Drs. Byron Allen and Dawn Lombardo are conducting numerous clinical trials in the management of heart failure. With funding from federal, state and industry sources, Dr. Lombardo also is involved in defining the best measures to care for heart failure patients.
  • Dr. Morton Kern is studying coronary hemodynamics and intravascular imaging of coronary atherosclerosism research efforts supported by the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Intervention and industry funding.
  • Dr. Pranav M. Patel is UC Irvine's lead researcher in an NIH study of cholesterol and other lipids that are deposited as plaque in coronary arteries. The purpose of the study—COLOR: Chemometric Observations of Lipid Core Containing Plaques of Interest in Native Coronary Arteries Registry—is to develop a registry of standard clinical data from patients who have undergone elective or non-emergent cardiac catheterization with the use of the LipiScan Coronary Imaging System (CIS).

Health Policy Research and Heart Disease Prevention »


Dr. Shaista Malik studies health policy, epidemiology and quality of care issues involving patients with diabetes and metabolic syndrome. She has been a co-investigator on a multi-center grant examining the quality of care given to diabetic patients in managed care organizations. She also has studied the implications of subclinical disease in diabetics, using data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) to determine the link between coronary calcium scores and future cardiovascular events. Her current interest is the early identification of those at the highest risk for developing cardiovascular disease using non-invasive cardiovascular imaging and developing prevention strategies. Her federally funded research is focused on the use of cardiovascular imaging to modify patient behavior and behavioral interventions to prevent cardiovascular disease.  

UC Irvine’s Heart Disease Prevention Program under Nathan Wong, Ph.D., has contributed significantly to epidemiological studies of metabolic syndrome, hypertension and dyslipidemia, as well as subclinical atherosclerosis evaluated by vascular calcification. It has been involved in multiple national multicenter clinical trials and longitudinal studies of cardiovascular disease, including the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA), Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC), Antihypertensive Lipid-Lowering to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT) and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).

Wong's laboratory continues to evaluate new risk factors with coronary calcium in several NIH-sponsored population studies. Other projects involve studying the epidemiology of metabolic syndrome using various population databases and a trial examining the role of statins in lowering CRP levels in people with normal cholesterol levels. Another trial aims to study statins’ effectiveness in lowering lipids and cardiometabolic risk.


Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology »

The Division of Cardiology collaborates closely with UC Irvine's Edwards Lifesciences Center for Advanced Cardiovascular Technology, a center within the Henry Samuel School of Engineering that is focused on basic research and the development of new methods to treat cardiovascular disease.

Areas of interest include:

  • Valve replacement technology 
  • Regenerative and degenerative cardiovascular medicine (including tissue engineering and stem cell biology) 
  • Non-invasive (wireless) cardiovascular monitoring, intervention, and imaging 
  • Novel stent or catheter-based therapies including new biological coatings

The engineering expertise applied to these areas includes Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), nanotechnology, biophotonics, biomaterials, systems biology and computation/modeling.

Cardiology - Oncology Clinical Trials »

     Sponsor-Clinical Trial Title           IRB Protocol number

Description

Patient Major Inclusion Criteria

Novartis - PIONEER-HF (CLCZ696BUS01):

IRB:2016-3055

A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, double dummy, parallel group,   active-controlled 8-week study to evaluate the effect of sacubitril/valsartan   (LCZ696) versus enalapril on changes in NT-proBNP and safety and tolerability   of in-hospital initiation of LCZ696 compared to enalapril in HFrEF patients who   have been stabilized following hospitalization for acute decompensated heart failure   (ADHF)

Enrollment Active

The primary objective of this study is to assess the effect of in hospital   initiation of sacubitril/valsartan tablets vs. enalapril on the time-averaged   proportional change of NT-proBNP from baseline in patients who have been stabilized   following hospitalization for acute decompensated heart failure and reduced   ejection fraction (left ventricular ejection fraction [LVEF] ≤ 40%). Weeks 4 and   8 will be included in the analysis (primary analysis time point).

 

 

 

Patients ≥ 18 years of age, male or female

Currently hospitalized for ADHF 

Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ≤ 40%

Systolic blood pressure ≥ 100 mmHg 

Elevated NT-proBNP ≥ 1600pg/mL or BNP ≥ 400 pg/mL during current hospitalization

 

Novartis - PARAGON-HF (CLCZ696D2301):

IRB: 2014-1464 

A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, parallel group,   active-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of LCZ696   compared to valsartan, on morbidity and mortality in heart failure patients   (NYHA Class II-IV) with preserved ejection fraction

Enrollment Completed

The purpose of this research study is to test if 200 mg of LCZ696   twice a day, compared to 160 mg of valsartan twice a day, is safe and   effective in reducing the complications of heart failure, such as   hospitalization for heart failure and death from cardiovascular causes.  

 

 

Patients ≥ 50 years of age, male or female

Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ≥ 45%

Elevated NT-proBNP > 300 pg/mL pg/mL not in AF or >900 pg/mL   pg/mL in AF)

 

CVRx – BeAT-HF:

IRB: 2017-3757

BAROSTIM NEO - Baroreflex Activation Therapy for Heart Failure   (BeAT-HF)

Enrollment Active

The BAROSTIM NEO - Baroreflex Activation Therapy for Heart Failure is   a prospective, randomized device trial in subjects with reduced ejection   fraction heart failure. Subjects will be randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive   Barostim Activation Therapy with an implanted BAROSTIM NEO System (referred   to as Neo system from here on) in addition to medical management or to   receive medical management alone (no device implant).

 

 

Patients ≥ 21 years of age, male or female

New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional Class III and Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ≤ 35%

Heart failure accompanied by BNP≥100 or NT-proBNP≥400 within 45 days   prior to randomization

Six-minute hall walk ≥ 150m and ≤ 400 m

 

Novartis - PARADISE-MI (CLCZ696G2301):

IRB:2018-4160

A multi-center, randomized, double-blind, active-controlled,   parallel-group Phase 3 study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of LCZ696   compared to Ramipril on morbidity and mortality in high risk patients   following an acute myocardial infarction

Enrollment Pending

The primary objective of this study is to demonstrate that LCZ696 is   superior to ramipril in delaying the time-to-first occurrence of death,   hospitalization or outpatient Heart Failure* in patients with pulmonary   congestion following a heart attack.

 

Patients ≥ 18 years of age, male or female

Diagnosis of spontaneous AMI and pulmonary congestion

Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ≤ 40%

Systolic blood pressure ≥ 100 mmHg

Novartis - PERSPECTIVE (CLCZ696B2320):

IRB: 2018-4171

A Multicenter, Randomized, Double-blind, Active-controlled Study to   Evaluate the Effects of LCZ696 Compared to Valsartan on Cognitive Function in   Patients with Chronic Heart Failure and Preserved Ejection Fraction

Enrollment Pending

The main reason for this study is to find out whether or not there is   a different effect on thinking and memory between the two study medicines   (LCZ696 and valsartan. By comparing LCZ696 and valsartan, it will be possible   to understand the effect of neprilysin inhibition on thinking and memory.

Patients ≥ 60 years of age, male or female

Diagnosis of Chronic Heart failure (NYHA II-IV)

Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) > 40%

Elevated NT-proBNP ≥ 125 pg/mL

 

Boehringer Ingelheim - EMPEROR-HF (1245.110):

IRB: 2017-3958 

A phase III randomized, double-blind trial to evaluate efficacy and   safety of once daily empagliflozin 10 mg compared to placebo, in patients   with chronic Heart Failure with preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF)

Enrollment Pending

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the clinical   efficacy (how well something works to treat a condition) and safety of   Empagliflozin in treating subjects who have a type of chronic (long-term)   heart failure (HF) that includes preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF).

 

 

Patients ≥ 20 years of age, male or female

Diagnosis of Chronic Heart failure (NYHA II-IV)

Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) > 40%

Elevated NT-proBNP > 300 pg/mL pg/mL not in AF or >900 pg/mL   pg/mL in AF)

eGFR (CKD-EPI) ≥ 20 mL/min/1.73 m2

 

Boehringer Ingelheim -

EMEROR-HF (1245.121)

IRB:  2017-3817

A phase III randomized, double-blink trial to evaluate efficacy and   safety of once daily empagliflozin 10 mg compared to placebo, in patients   with chronic Heart Failure with reduced Ejection Fraction (HFrEF)

Enrollment Pending

 

 

 

 

 

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the clinical   efficacy (how well something works to treat a condition) and safety of the   study drug in treating subjects who have a type of chronic (long-term) heart   failure (HF) that includes reduced Ejection Fraction (HFrEF).

Patients ≥ 20 years of age, male or female

Diagnosis of Chronic Heart failure (NYHA II-IV)

If EF ≥36 to ≤40: Elevated NT-proBNP at Visit 1 ≥2500 pg/ml for   patients without AF, OR ≥5000 pg/ml for patients with AF, analyzed at the   Central Laboratory.

If EF ≥31 to ≤35: Elevated NT-proBNP at Visit 1 ≥1000 pg/ml for   patients without AF, OR ≥2000 pg/ml for patients with AF, analyzed at the   Central Laboratory.

If EF≤30%: Elevated NT-proBNP at Visit 1 ≥600 pg/ml for patients   without AF, OR ≥1200 pg/ml for patients with AF, analyzed at the Central   Laboratory.

eGFR (CKD-EPI) ≥ 20 mL/min/1.73 m2


For more information about our research programs, contact Division of Cardiology Chief Dr. Pranav Patel.