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Knollmann to direct new arrhythmia research center

Jan. 14, 2016, 9:42 AM

Björn Knollmann, M.D., Ph.D., has been named director of the newly formed Vanderbilt Center for Arrhythmia Research and Therapeutics (VanCART).

Björn Knollmann, M.D., Ph.D.

Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute (VHVI) is an internationally recognized leader in the study and treatment of arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythms, which affect more than 14 million people in the U.S.

Vanderbilt investigators have been at the forefront of basic and clinical discovery in mechanisms underlying arrhythmias and their variable responses to treatments, said Knollmann, professor of Medicine and Pharmacology.

More recently, Vanderbilt investigators have pioneered research in drug-induced and genetic heart rhythm disorders, including the identification of rare and common genetic variants associated with arrhythmia risk, and the development of the first molecularly-targeted anti-arrhythmic drug therapy in a rare genetic arrhythmia disorder.

VanCART will integrate an understanding of the mechanisms predisposing people to abnormal heart rhythms, and will use this information for optimal personalized patient care.

“The next frontier in arrhythmia research and therapeutics is to translate the detailed genetic information into mechanisms at the molecular and cellular level, and to translate the basic discoveries into optimal personalized care for patients with abnormal heart rhythms and to new drug development,” Knollmann said.

VanCART ultimately will include multidisciplinary research teams comprising geneticists, bioinformatics specialists, structural biologists, cell biologists, basic ion channel biologists and clinical electrophysiologists as well as an infrastructure in basic electrophysiology equipment, research cores for sample processing and storage, bioinformatics, electronic patient databases, and clinical trial support.

“Fortunately, Vanderbilt already has tremendous and unique existing strengths such as BioVU, so that with a modest investment in research infrastructure and new faculty recruitment a nationally recognized center of excellence in arrhythmia research and therapeutics can be launched in a short order,” Knollmann said.

“VanCART is a logical extension of ongoing collaborations and NIH-funded projects by Vanderbilt investigators doing cutting edge arrhythmia research and clinical trials.”

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