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  • Research

  • All members of the pediatric cardiology staff are affiliated with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

    The Division of Pediatric Cardiology takes advantage of the broad range of research programs available within the health center campus. The Division of Pediatric Cardiology at Hasbro Children's Hospital has active research programs both in clinical and basic science areas.

    Clinical Research

    Some recent presentations/publications have focused on:

    • the potential relationship between meningococcal antigens and Kawasaki disease.
    • experiences with portopulmonary hypertension.
    • the spectrum of Lyme carditis.
    • the detrimental effects of steroid usage in treating inflammatory pericarditis.

    Ongoing prospective clinical projects are mostly centered around exercise physiology and include:

    • investigating causes of exercise-limiting symptoms in otherwise healthy children.
    • the frequency of exercise-induced bronchospasm as a cause of exercise intolerance.
    • the association between asthma and morbid obesity.
    • the assessment of exercise variables in individuals with eating disorders.

    Members of the division are also forging relationships with biotechnology investigators in private industry and local, academic institutions to bring new technologic innovations into clinical practice.

    Basic Science Research

    The division has a productive basic science program investigating the genetics of congenital heart disease.

    Five to eight of 1000 infants have cardiac malfunctions. Worldwide, 1 million infants are born annually with heart defects (20,000 a year in the United States.). Sufficient progress has occurred in identifying, characterizing and surgically repairing physiologically important congenital cardiac defects so that 85 percent of these infants can survive to adulthood. However, congenital heart defects remain a leading cause of death during the first five years of life and are associated with significant morbidity in neonatal life and beyond.

    Unlike other major causes of infant mortality such as sudden infant death and infections that have been dramatically reduced in recent years, the frequency of congenital heart diseases has not changed appreciably. Recent advances in developmental and molecular biology have provided the tools to dissect the complex biological and genetic mechanisms responsible for congenital heart defects. The analysis of these mechanisms is a first step in developing effective strategies for treating and ultimately preventing congenital heart defects.

    The laboratory of pediatric cardiology is interested in understanding how the heart components form, grow, die and possibly regenerate. Growth modifiers and enzymes that rearrange the genetic material such as the histone deacetylases (HDACs) are very important for these processes.

    The researchers of pediatric cardiology at Hasbro Children's Hospital and Brown Medical School focuses on the role of growth regulators and HDACs in heart development and in pathologic conditions of heart injury. These factors that are operational during normal cardiac development can be reactivated later in life and contribute to compensatory or pathologic myocardial growth in the adult. Learning the details of how these factors function may lead to the discovery of novel therapeutic targets for the prevention and/or amelioration of both congenital and acquired cardiomyopathies.