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School of Medicine
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We specialize in unconventional, multi-disciplinary approaches to studying the heart at the intersection of applied mathematics, physics and computer science. We focus on theory development that leads to new technology and value delivery to the society. Currently we have three research programs:
1. Precision Medicine
To develop a quantitative approach to personalized risk assessment for stroke and dementia based on patent-specific heart anatomy, function and blood flow.
Disciplines: Cardiac Hemodynamics; Medical Imaging Physics; Continuum Mechanics; Computational Fluid Dynamics
2. Information Theory
To quantify and perturb cardiac fibrillation that emerges as a macro-scale behavior of the heart from micro-scale behaviors of inter-dependent components.
Disciplines: Cardiac Electrophysiology; Spiral Wave; Information Theory; Complex Networks
3. Artificial Intelligence
To develop artificial intelligence algorithms to predict the future risk of heart attack, stroke and sudden... death, and to assist surgical interventions to prevent these outcomes.
Disciplines: Medical Imaging Physics; Artificial Intelligence; Robotically Assisted Interventions
The main focus of the Becker lab has been on the mechanisms and consequences of post-ischemic myocardial inflammation.
Genomic control of platelet function:
Aggregation of blood platelets initiates clotting in coronary arteries, the main cause of heart attacks. Our laboratory conducts experiments to understand how genes control platelet function. Through funding by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, we have performed candidate gene analysis, linkage studies, whole genome association studies, and now whole genome sequencing in about 2000 healthy subjects from families with early onset coronary artery disease. The subjects are siblings or offspring of an individual identified with coronary artery disease before age 60 in the GeneSTAR Research Program (Genetic Studies of Atherosclerosis Risk). We have identified a large number of common and rare genetic variants associated with platelet aggregation, and although some variants are located in genes known to be important in... the biology of platelet function, most are in non-protein coding regions of genes (introns) or in intergenic regions of the genome. To understand better how these variants influence platelet function, we created pluripotent stem cells from blood mononuclear cells in 257 genotyped GeneSTAR subjects and then transformed the stem cells to megakaryocytes, the source of platelets in the bone marrow. We have determined the entire transcriptome of these megakaryocytes to measure gene expression levels in an effort to functionally link genetic variation with platelet function. We are also interested in epigenetic effects which regulate the amount of gene transcription and resulting protein formation. We have done similar transcriptomic and proteomic studies in blood platelets as we have in stem cell-derived megakaryocytes.
Our goal is to identify new therapeutic targets for drug development to control excessive platelet aggregation and reduce the risk of heart attack in susceptible individuals. We also hope to use the genetic information to predict who is at greatest risk for platelet aggregation or bleeding, and tailor treatment to effectively apply individualized precision medicine.
The Becker laboratory also extends its cardiovascular work well beyond platelet function, as noted on the GeneSTAR Research Program website. view less
Radiopharmaceutical Therapy and Dosimetry Lab
The Radiopharmaceutical Therapy and Dosimetry (RTD) Lab has two missions: 1. Support clinical Radiopharmaceutical Therapy (RPT) trials by performing patient-specific dosimetry and developing novel methods that advance this field and illustrate the impact of a precision medicine approach to implementing treatment planning in RPT. This includes radiobiological modeling and microscale dosimetry calculations for alpha-particle emitter RPT. 2. Pre-clinical studies using novel alpha-emitter RPT agents with immune intact transgenic animal models that incorporate modeling and dosimetry to support the translation of novel targeted radionuclide therapy strategies to the clinic. In particular, identifying how to best combine RPT with complementary orthogonal-modality agents while also obtaining a basic understanding of how the treatment works and which variables have the greatest impact on efficacy and toxicity. The underlying objective is to utilize pre-clinical modeling and dosimetry to help id...entify an optimal therapeutic clinical trial design so as to reduce unnecessary human experimentation. view more
Seth Martin Lab
Dr. Martin's research is focused on rapid generation of new knowledge through clinical studies that can be brought back to the bedside to directly inform the care of patients with advanced lipid disorders and those in need of state-of-the-art comprehensive CV prevention. Members of his lab commit to complete ownership of their project, unwavering pursuit of excellence, and thrive on multidisciplinary teamwork. Active projects include the Very Large Database of Lipids, CASCADE FH Registry, MiCORE (Myocardial infarction, COmbined device, Recovery Enhancement), Google Health Search Trial, and mActive-Smoke.
For more information, please visit the Ciccarone Center.
The Bigos Lab
The Bigos Lab focuses on a Precision Medicine approach to the treatment of psychiatric illness. In addition, this lab employs functional neuroimaging and genetics as biomarkers in neuropsychiatric drug development. A recent study used functional MRI to test the neural effects of a drug with the potential to treat cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. Other studies aim to identify patient-specific variables including sex, race, and genetics that impact drug clearance and clinical response to better select and dose antipsychotics and antidepressants.