June 26, 2019

VUMC receives portion of $14 million AHA award to study arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrest

VUMC receives more than $3.7 million from the American Heart Association to study cardiac arrhythmia and sudden cardiac arrest

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is receiving more than $3.7 million from the American Heart Association (AHA) to form part of a research network focused on understanding the causes, risk factors and disease processes of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrest.

VUMC was chosen along with research teams at Northwestern University, University of Michigan and University of Washington to share grants totaling more than $14 million. Their findings will provide a basis to generate more effective ways to prevent and treat these deadly conditions, according to the AHA.

VUMC’s research center brings together three academic institutions — Vanderbilt University, George Washington University and Lipscomb University — “with one mission of improving the lives of patients at risk for dying from arrhythmias,” said Bjorn Knollmann, MD, PhD, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Arrhythmia Research and Therapeutics and leader of the research team.

The team will use basic science to identify potential treatments for ventricular arrhythmia, fast heart rhythms originating in the main heart pumping chambers. Building on past research that identified an intracellular channel known as the Ryanodine Receptor (RyR) as a major cause for abnormal calcium cycling in heart cells, the team will investigate how that causes ventricular arrhythmia in the human heart. Additionally, the group will test a new therapy designed to normalize calcium and prevent ventricular arrhythmia in patients with heart disease.

“The support from AHA will help us develop and test new drug therapy for preventing sudden death in patients with heart disease,” Knollman said. “We are very much looking forward to working with the other centers and the AHA as part of this new research network.”