Dr. Mustafa Husaini Elected to ACC Cardiovascular Management Leadership Council

Dr. Husaini Mustafa of the cardiovascular division was elected this week to the American College of Cardiology’s Cardiovascular Management Leadership Council. With this 3-year appointment, the ACC recognizes Dr. Mustafa’s outstanding contributions to cardiovascular medicine and his leadership in advancing the ACC’s goals of innovation and knowledge to optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes.

Dr. Mustafa is an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Director of the Sports Cardiology program, and Assistant Director of the Cardiovascular Fellowship program.

Washington University School of Medicine Among Sites of new HFpEF Study

The National Institute of Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, recently awarded Wake Forest University School of Medicine a five-year grant expected to total $30 million to support research to test a novel rehabilitation program designed for older patients hospitalized for acute heart failure. Washington University School of Medicine/Barnes-Jewish Hospital will serve as one of the 20 sites for this important study.

HFpEF is the most common form of heart failure in older persons. Unfortunately, these frail patients have poor outcomes, and there are few proven treatments available. The Phase III REHAB-HFpEF trial will examine whether a novel physical rehabilitation intervention will reduce rehospitalizations and mortality in patients hospitalized for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). Ejection fraction refers to the contraction ability of the heart.

The REHAB-HF program was developed by a team of physical rehabilitation experts specifically for an older, frail adult population who have very poor physical function due to aging and chronic heart failure. Kitzman said these patients’ physical function is exacerbated by their hospital experience and bedrest, and the severe deficits often persist long after discharge, and without specialized help, patients often never recover fully.

The intervention program, which is individually tailored, involves strength, balance, endurance and mobility training exercises. The program is implemented as early in the hospital stay as possible and transitions to an outpatient facility for three sessions a week for 12 weeks and then continues with exercise at home.

Cardiovascular Division Faculty Among Recipients of McDonnell Academy Seed Grants

Drs. Victor Davila-Roman and Mark Huffman were announced among the recipients of The McDonnel Academy Seed Grants. Their abstract ENHANCING INTERGENERATIONAL HEALTH IN NIGERIA: PERIPARTUM AS CRITICAL LIFE STAGE FOR CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH (ENHANCE-CVH), was funded as part of the Public Health category.

They will be working with partner institution University of Abuja, Nigeria. The abstract reads, “Nigeria has among the highest burdens of maternal morbidity and mortality in the world, which is coupled with a rising burden of noncommunicable, chronic diseases due to unhealthy changes in dietary patterns and physical activity, especially during critical life stages. This seed grant will support formative research to adapt a home-based intervention called HEALTH (Healthy Eating Active Living Taught at Home) on intergenerational cardiovascular health among women recruited during the antenatal period and their children in Nigerian primary healthcare centers in collaboration with University of Abuja and Parents as Teachers National Center in St. Louis. Improving maternal health behaviors and subsequent maternal cardiovascular health is a central strategy toward improving family cardiovascular health to blunt and eventually reverse the rising burden of noncommunicable chronic diseases in Nigeria.”

The McDonnell Academy’s seed grant initiative was first launched two years ago, thanks to a gift by the Millard family. The key objective is to facilitate collaborative research that yields substantial outcomes, including next-stage funding, publications, clinical interventions, policy impact, and deeper ties between WashU and our partners around the globe. The program has so far resulted in a six-fold return on the initial investment, as previous recipients have been successful in securing external funding in excess of $4 million.

Dr. Zainab Mahmoud Co-Authors Paper on Disparities in Cardiovascular Health in Black Women

Cardiovascular Division Instructor in Medicine Zainab Mahmoud, MD, MSc, co-authored a paper entitled “Eliminating Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease for Black Women”, published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Some of the findings of the paper were:

  • That Black women bear a disproportionate burden of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
  • The ethnic diversity, regions of origin, and acculturation of Black women should be considered in the design of research studies and culturally tailored strategies.
  • Sustainable solutions that address social determinants of health and differential effects of risk factors should be implemented using a patient-centered framework and collaboration among clinicians, health care systems, professional societies, and government agencies.

The paper was named as JACC Review Topic of the Week for November 1st, 2022.

To read the full paper, click here.

Dr. Mark Huffman Will Serve as Faculty Lead for Trust and Public Health Transdisciplinary Team

The Washington University Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures announced Mark Huffman, MD, MPH as a faculty lead of the Trust and Public Health cluster this week.

According to the ITF website, the mission of the organization “is to nurture innovative academic configurations that may endure—and even become research and educational models to follow—thus transforming not only Arts & Sciences but also Washington University.”.

The Trust and Public Health Cluster will create new research and learning that focuses on understanding the various sources of trust, mistrust, and distrust that affect public health, healthcare, and health policy.

Dr. Huffman joins Washington University professors David Carter (Political Science), Mathew Gabel (Political Science) and Jimin Ding (Mathematics and Biostatistics) as faculty leads for this multiyear venture.

Dr. Linda Peterson Inducted as President of Society for Heart and Vascular Metabolism

Cardiovascular Division faculty member Linda Peterson, MD, was inducted as president of the Society for Heart and Vascular Metabolism last month at their 19th annual Scientific Sessions, hosted in Seoul, South Korea.

The Society was founded in 2000, with the intent of providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas by a group of investigators with a special interest in the multiple roles of intermediary metabolism in the cardiovascular system. An important aim of the Society is to foster interactions between young investigators and senior scientists in an informal setting.

This year’s meeting focused “on metabolic modulation of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Invited speakers will highlight our current understanding of metabolic signaling pathways in blood vessels and heart, that can be targeted for the treatment of metabolic cardiovascular diseases.”, according to the SHVM website.

Dr. Peterson is a professor of Medicine and Radiology in the cardiovascular division, and a member of the Washington University School of Medicine’s Diabetes Research Center.

ACC, AHA Issue Aortic Disease Guideline, Recommend Genetic Screening

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHH) on Wednesday published updated guidelines on the diagnosis and management of aortic disease, focusing on surgical intervention considerations, consistent imaging practices, genetic and familial screenings, and the importance of a multidisciplinary aortic team.

“There has been a host of new evidence-based research available for clinicians in the past decade when it comes to aortic disease,” Dr. Eric M. Isselbacher, guideline writing committee chair, said in a statement. “It was time to reevaluate and update the previous existing guidelines.”

Dr. Alan Braverman of the Washington University School of Medicine’s cardiovascular division served on the writing committee for the updated guidelines.

“We have utilized multidisciplinary teams in the approach to acute and chronic diseases of the aorta at Washington University in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital for several years.  The Aortic Disease Guidelines will provide a useful framework for cardiologists, vascular and cardiac surgeons, radiologists and other physicians and practitioners involved in the evaluation and management of individuals with aortic disease”, says Dr. Braverman.

“Highlights in the Aortic Disease Guidelines include emphasis on standard approaches to imaging and measuring the aorta, the importance of multidisciplinary teams and shared decision-making, updates in the medical, endovascular and surgical management of abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurysms, and importantly, the expanded role of genetic testing and family screening for individuals and families with thoracic aortic disease.  New sections on pregnancy and family planning for individuals with thoracic aortic disease are included.”

Read more about the guidelines and their impact on treatment of aortic disease:

Department of Medicine names diversity, equity leaders

Jesus Jimenez, MD, PhD, has been appointed as the Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Fellows and Postdoctoral trainees in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Jimenez grew up in southern California and completed his undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology at the University of California, San Diego. He joined the Medical Scientist Training Program and received his MD and PhD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY. He then joined the Physician Scientist Training Program at Washington University/Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis where he completed internal medicine residency, cardiology fellowship, cardio-oncology fellowship, and post-doctoral training. In 2021, he joined the faculty as an Instructor in Medicine in the Cardiovascular Division. His research focuses on immunological mechanisms that underlie cardiac injury from cancer immunotherapies in an effort to develop innovative and preventive treatments. During his time at Washington University, Dr. Jimenez has actively participated in recruitment efforts of underrepresented minorities for medical school, residency, fellowship, and post-doctoral training. He is passionate and dedicated to supporting diversity and health equity initiatives, and to creating an inclusive climate for all trainees.


Read more on the School of Medicine website

Tenth Annual Cardiovascular Research Day October 13, 2022

The cardiovascular division is hosting the tenth annual Cardiovascular Research Day this Thursday, October 13th! Join us for posters, presentations, and lectures celebrating basic, clinical and translational cardiovascular research at Washington University.

Valve Team Performs First Transseptal Transcatheter Mitral Valve Replacement

As part of the Apollo clinical trial, a team of Wash U physicians successfully completed a transseptal transcatheter mitral valve replacement at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Washington University is the only participating Missouri location for the trial.

The surgical team included the Cardiovascular Division’s Dr. Alan Zajarias, Dr. Marc Sintek, Dr. Majesh Makan, and Dr. Sam Lindner as well as the Department of Surgery’s Dr. Puja Kachroo. Dr. John Lasala, Dr. Nishath Quader, and Dr. Spencer Melby also participated in evaluation and treatment of the patient.

The Apollo trial is open “to patients with severe mitral valve regurgitation who are not good  candidates for mitraclip and are felt to be good candidates for this procedure during a multidisciplinary discussion”, says Dr. Zajarias. In the procedure, the patient’s mitral valve is replaced going through the femoral vein.

Dr. Zajarias notes that “Until recently, the other option was a transapical procedure that was much more morbid and painful.”

The patient was discharged from the hospital and is doing well.

RSVP for the Cardiovascular Division 75th Anniversary Celebration

On November 11, 2022 the Washington University School of Medicine Cardiovascular Division will be celebrating our 75th Anniversary! You won’t want to miss this event, which will include guest speakers, panels with current and former faculty and fellows, and more.

The celebration will take place at the Eric P. Newman Education Center on the Medical School campus. A livestream of the event will also be available here:

75th Cardiovascular Division Anniversary Registration


4th Annual Heart Team Summit Comes to St. Louis


Join faculty members in the Divisions of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Cardiology at Washington University School of Medicine as they unite with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Ascension St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana for the 4th Annual Heart Team Summit.

Cardiovascular Division faculty that will be presenting at this event include Nishath Quader, MD; Alan Zajarias, MD; Anubha Argarwal, MD, MS; Alan Braverman, MD; John Lasala, MD, PhD; Thomas Maddox, MD, MS; Jonathan Moreno, MD, PhD; Marc Sintek, MD; and Justin M. Vader, MD.

This event will begin on Friday, October 21, and conclude on Saturday, October 22, at the Four Seasons Hotel (999 N 2nd St) in St. Louis.

This joint educational initiative was developed to provide a forum to provide expert lectures and case presentations geared toward health care professionals who may be part of a heart team. The continuing education program is designed to meet the needs of cardiac surgeons and fellows, interventional and general cardiologists, cardiology fellows, cardiac catheterization laboratory nurses, and technical staff.

Attendees for the Heart Team Summit can attend the event in-person or in a virtual environment. To register for this event, visit the event’s webpage.


Institute for Public Health to Hold Special Seminar: Algorithms of Oppression

Cardiovascular division faculty members Karen Joynt Maddox (co-Director, Center for Health Economics & Policy) and Gmerice Hammond (Associate Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity) along with their colleagues at the Institute of Public Health will be hosting a seminar October 19th entitield Algorithms of Oppression, presented by Dr. Safiya U. Noble.

Dr. Safiya U. Noble is an internet studies scholar and professor of gender studies and African American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she serves as the Co-Founder and Faculty Director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry. She holds affiliations in the School of Education & Information Studies, and is a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford where she is a Commissioner on the Oxford Commission on AI & Good Governance. In 2021, she was recognized as a MacArthur Foundation Fellow (also known as the “Genius Award”) for her ground-breaking work on algorithmic discrimination. In 2022, she was recognized as the inaugural NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award recipient.

In her latest book,  “Algorithms of Oppression,” Safiya U. Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem; Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color.

Dr. Kory Lavine Receives Leadership Achievement Award at ISHR North American Conference

Kory Lavine, MD, PhD, received the International Society for Heart Research- North American Section 2022 MCI Leadership Achievement Award, presented in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada at the section’s annual meeting on September 6th.

Nominated by Division Chief Sumanth Prabhu, MD, Dr. Lavine was selected by committee to receive this award based on his leadership, mentorship, and achievements in cardiovascular research. The Lavine Lab at Washington University School of Medicine focuses on developing therapeutics for cardiovascular diseases including myocardial infraction, heart failure, myocarditis, and heart transplant rejection.

Dr. Lavine gave a talk at the conference entitled “Discovery and Innovation in Cardiovascular Research”. In this talk he emphasized the importance of mentorship, both having been inspired by his own mentors and able to mentor students and trainees to succeed in their own careers. He also highlighted important aspects of leadership in science, including curiosity, willingness to be open to new ideas, and courage to change existing paradigms. Dr. Lavine also spoke about the Cardiovascular Precision Research Initiative, the translational arm of the Center for Cardiovascular Research at Washington University School of Medicine, of which he is the Director.

Faculty receive $6.1M NIH grant for maternal health study

Three faculty from the Brown School and the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis have received a seven-year $6.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aimed at improving the health of mothers and children in the St. Louis region.

The project, titled “Enhancing Cardiovascular Health Equity in Mothers and Children Through Home Visiting,” will be led by Debra Haire-Joshu, PhD, the Joyce and Chauncy Buchheit Professor in Public Health; Victor G. Davila-Roman, MD, professor of medicine, anesthesiology and radiology; and Rachel Tabak, PhD, research associate professor at the Brown School.

Low testosterone may increase risk of COVID-19 hospitalization for men

Dr. Stacey Rentschler and Colleagues Receive NIH Grant to Fund Study on Radiation Therapy for VT Patients

Stacey Rentschler, MD, PhD in collaboration with many other Washington University researchers within and outside the cardiovascular division recently received an NIH grant totaling over $3 million to further study a major breakthrough in a non-invasive treatment for ventricular tachycardia.

The grant follows a 2021clinical study from Washington University School of Medicine brought together cardiologists, engineers, radiologists, and radiation oncologists to invent a novel and noninvasive radiation therapy to treat ventricular tachycardia. Building upon this groundbreaking discovery using focused radiation to treat scarred parts of the heart which harbor electrical short-circuits, the team of researchers studied the electrical effects of radiation therapy in hearts from mice and humans who had undergone heart transplantation.

The study, which appeared in Nature Communications, found that radiation therapy targeted at the heart surprisingly can fix electrical problems that cause life-threatening arrhythmias. “Arrhythmias often happen because of slow electrical conduction speeds around and through scar,” says lead investigator Stacey L. Rentschler, MD, PhD. “Radiation therapy seems to kick up the speed faster by activating early developmental pathways that revert the diseased heart tissue back into a healthier state.” Specifically, scientists found that a single dose of radiation treatment temporarily activated Notch signaling, a developmental pathway that plays a significant role in the formation of the heart’s electrical conduction system.

The grant will allow the researchers to continue their studies of the radiation therapy, and allow multiple model systems, including mice, large animals, and humans.

Wide Complex Tachycardia Discrimination Tool Improves Physician’s Diagnostic Accuracy

A new study published in the Journal of Electrocardiology this month by Washington University Physician Adam May shows that an automated tool for WCT differentiation can improve the accuracy of the physician interpreting ECGs. In the study, it was shown that using an algorithm designed to differentiate between ventricular tachycardia (VT) and supraventricular wide complex tachycardia (SWCT) in ECGs called the VT Prediction Model improved both accuracy and confidence of diagnosis among physicians who used it over a four-day period.

Using this kind of technology to improve diagnostic accuracy can have a positive impact on results for WCT patients, reducing the occurrence of application of harmful medical treatments and long-term effects of misdiagnosis.

Read the full paper here.

New Clinical Trial for Evoque Valve Comes to Valvular Heart Disease Center

Dr. Alan Zajarias and the team at the Valvular Heart Disease Center have been invited to join the Edwards Triscend 2 pivotal trial, testing the safety and effectiveness of the Evoque valve device in patients with tricuspid regurgitation.

The Evoque tricuspid valve replacement system is designed to use an implant to replace the native tricuspid valve without open-heart surgery. The trial includes patients with severe or greater tricuspid regurgitation (TR).

The Valvular Heart Disease Center is continuing to expand an impressive portfolio of clinical trials, with ongoing trials for tavr, tavr for AI with Jenna Valve, TEER with mitraclip, TEER with Pascal for FMR, TMVR with intrepid (transseptal), and tricuspid repair with Pascal and tric valve (superior and inferior caval stent valves). This innovative work continues to put Washington University School of Medicine on the cutting edge of cardiovascular medicine.

New Drug, Positive Results for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy