Stacey Rentschler, MD, PhD, cardiovascular instructor, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), has received the Burroughs Wellcome Fund's Career Award for Medical Scientists. The award provides $700,000 over five years to enable Rentschler to conduct research on Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a congenital disorder that affects how the heart beats.
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome occurs when an abnormal electrically active circuit is found between the atria and ventricles of the heart, sometimes causing heart palpitations or sudden death. Working in the laboratory of Jonathan Epstein, MD, William Wikoff Smith Professor of Cardiovascular Research, Rentschlerís research aims to uncover new insights on the causative developmental and genetic aspects of what forms those electrically active connections.
Rentschler and colleagues, including Vickas Patel, MD, PhD, assistant professor and director of molecular arrhythmia research at HUP, are studying a signaling pathway, Notch, which can cause a similar syndrome in an animal model if activated. The new grant will assist Rentschler and her team in researching whether changes in Notch signals and other signaling pathways play a role in human Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. The team also found that Notch may be able to alter the properties of heart cells to make them more electrically active, which may have therapeutic implications in developing a biologic pacemaker.
Additionally, Rentschler received a K08 award from NHLBI for $137,976 per year for five years to investigate the role of Notch signaling in arrhythmogenesis.
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