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VHVI repository helps define cardiac disease mechanisms

May. 9, 2013, 1:19 PM

Peggi Angel, Ph.D., research instructor in Biochemistry, studies congenital aortic valve stenosis in children. It’s a disease where the heart valve, which is normally very thin, becomes bloated with extracellular matrix. This occurs rapidly in some children but not in others.

In her quest to understand the mechanisms behind this rapid extracellular matrix formation in pediatric aortic valves, she turned to the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute Main Heart Registry and Biorepository.

The Registry and Biorepository were developed as a platform to define the molecular mechanisms of various cardiovascular diseases. The Main Heart Registry consists of an extensive Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) database that houses detailed clinical information that is collected longitudinally for the lifetime of the patient.

The Registry’s Biorepository consists of blood and cardiovascular and/or cardiovascular disease-related tissue that would normally be discarded from standard of care procedures and is obtained via a stringent patient consent process.

“I use proteomic approaches and imaging mass spectrometry to determine the molecules involved in forming these enlarged valves,” said Angel, who collaborates with pediatric cardiac surgeon David Bichell, M.D. “Without the registry it wouldn’t be possible to study this in children.”

Similarly, when cardiac surgeon, Tarek Absi, M.D., received a VICTR grant to study the genetic profile of mitral valve regurgitation, he turned to the Registry and Biorepository to obtain surgical tissue samples, which he had collected from consented patients who underwent mitral valve surgery. In addition, Absi has procured several unmatched donor hearts from healthy organ donors. The tissues from these hearts serve as normal controls for various cardiac research projects.

To obtain registry data and biospecimens, researchers must provide a research proposal and completed Registry Data/Sample Request, attend a registry scientific review committee (SRC) meeting to present their study, obtain institutional review board and SRC approval and receive a quote for samples/services.

“Researchers can pick a disease condition and focus not only on the blood sample, but also on the clinical presentation and outcomes that can be connected to that blood sample, which is extremely important,” said Daniel Lenihan, M.D., director of Cardiovascular Clinical Research and principal investigator for the VHVI Main Heart Registry and Biorepository.

The Main Heart Registry and Biorepository are available to all Vanderbilt researchers and are easily accessed by contacting Mary Beth Davis, the Registry Program coordinator, at 936-7191 or

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