Research Priority Area
How to Join
If you are interested in the MYRA Alliance, please contact Dr. Ken Campbell.
A critical part of advanced cardiac care, Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs) are mechanical pumps that can maintain blood circulation in patients who have serious heart failure. VADs are often used to support patients who are awaiting a cardiac transplant. However, they can sometimes be used to rescue a patient’s failing heart. The VAD can then be removed allowing the patient to return to their prior life. Rescuing the heart is known as myocardial recovery.
The University of Kentucky College of Medicine and UK HealthCare are leaders in treating advanced heart failure, performing about one percent of heart transplants worldwide – more than 40 procedures each year – and deploying VADs at a similar rate.
With funding from the UK College of Medicine’s Alliance Research Initiative, the Myocardial Recovery Alliance (MYRA) will leverage existing clinical and scientific strengths at the institution to improve understanding of myocardial recovery. With support from bioengineers and geneticists, the translational research team will forge new collaborations to improve therapies for patients with heart failure. In the process, the team will create a transdisciplinary program in which clinicians and scientists interact daily and, importantly, influence each other’s work.
MYRA is led by two co-principal investigators. Emma Birks, MD, PhD, is section chief of advanced heart failure, mechanical circulatory support, and heart transplantation. A prominent physician-scientist and an international leader in myocardial recovery, Dr. Birks has a long history of leading clinical trials and successful collaborations with basic scientists. She has been published extensively on the molecular mechanisms driving heart failure and subsequent recovery. Ken Campbell, PhD, professor in the department of physiology, is an expert in cardiac contractility and mathematical modeling of cell and molecular-level contractile function. He also serves as PI of the Gill Cardiovascular Biorepository and director of the university’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) Biospecimens Core.
The MYRA alliance is already developing remarkable computer models of hearts that grow and evolve in response to pharmaceutical and genetic manipulation on the molecular level. The MYRA structure will build on Alliance Research Initiative support to use detailed knowledge of these molecular mechanisms to work towards improved patient care.
- Ahmed Abdel-Latif, MD, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Emma Birks, MD, PhD, Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Ken Campbell, PhD, Professor – Department of Physiology
- Vedant Gupta, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Candice Harvey Falls, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Nursing
- Andrew Kolodziej, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Sarah Kosta, Mentored Scientist – Department of Physiology
- John Kotter, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Steve Leung, MD, Associate Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Greg Milburn, Mentored Scientist, MD/PhD Student – Department of Physiology
- Faruk Moonschi, PhD, Graduate Student – College of Arts and Sciences
- Neeti Reddy, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Vince Sorrell, MD, Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Gaurang Vaidya, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Jonathan Wenk, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Engineering