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About the Mentors

Sakthivel Sadayappan

Sakthivel Sadayappan, PhD, MBA

Role: Program Director and Principal Investigator
Professor of Internal Medicine
Director of the Heart Branch of the Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute

The long-term goal of Dr. Sadayappan’s well-funded lab (detailed here: is to elucidate the causes of muscle-specific diseases at the molecular level and identify targets conducive to the development of new therapies and cures. A major translational focus is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a major genetic disorder among populations of South Asian descent caused by myosin binding protein-C mutations. Discrete current projects include identifying cardiac-specific early biomarkers of heart failure and restoring sarcomere structure and function. These research projects have been funded by the NIH NHLBI, AHA, and industry for several years.

Sheryl Koch

Sheryl Koch, PhD

Role: Program Coordinator of the AHA-SURF program

Dr. Koch is a Research Associate in the Division of the Cardiovascular Health and Disease. Currently, her responsibilities are to support the mission of the division. She will be involved in receiving AHA-SURF program USRP applications followed by directing the selection process, implementing the AHA-SURF program during the summer months, tracking student outcomes, and maintaining follow-up of previous years’ students. Her effort on this application has been supported by the Division of the Cardiovascular Health and Disease.

Evangelia Kranias

Evangelia Kranias, PhD

Role: Mentor
Hanna Professor and Director of Cardiovascular Biology
Distinguished University Research Professor and Co-Director, Cardiovascular Center of Excellence

The overall goal of Dr. Kranias’ research program is to elucidate the regulatory mechanisms and signaling pathways underlying calcium homeostasis in cardiac muscle and the alterations in these pathways associated with heart failure. Her current approach is to use molecular genetics and generate mouse models, with alterations in the expression levels or activity of key calcium-handling proteins to determine their physiological and pathophysiological significance in vivo. The role of human mutations in these key calcium handling genes is also studied. The aim is to provide fundamental mechanistic insights and to identify new therapeutic modalities. Her research has been continuously funded by NIH for the past 35 years and she is internationally recognized in the field of heart failure. Dr. Kranias has placed 50 of her past trainees into academics, 40 of whom are considered independent investigators and 2 are Departmental Chairs.

Christy Holland

Christy Holland, PhD

Role: Mentor
Professor of Internal Medicine, COM, and Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Scientific Director, HLVI and Director of the Image-guided Ultrasound Therapeutics Laboratories

The goals Dr. Holland’s these NIH-funded research programs include development of 1) an ultrasound-assisted thrombolysis system that delivers and enhances thrombolytic therapy in the cerebral vasculature and rapidly restores perfusion after ischemic stroke, 2) targeted, echogenic agents with therapeutic loading to stage atherosclerosis and apply directed therapy to improve physiologic blood flow, and 3) passive cavitation imaging methods for guidance and control of histotripsy to improve efficacy and safety of ultrasound mechanical ablation for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis. With her expertise, the laboratories are well positioned to recruit and train AHA-SURF students in research areas to develop ultrasound therapies for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Dr. Holland mentors and advises students within and outside of BME educational programs. In addition, she directs the Image-guided Ultrasound Therapeutics Laboratories in the UC Cardiovascular Center, which focus on applications of biomedical ultrasound including sonothrombolysis, ultrasound-mediated drug and bioactive gas delivery, development of echogenic liposomes, and early detection of cardiovascular disease.

Michael T. Tranter

Michael T. Tranter, PhD

Role: Mentor
Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Internal Medicine
Co-Director, Pathology and Molecular Medicine Graduate Program
Director, ASPET Cardiovascular Division Competition Committee, Member, BCVS Early Career Committee

The long-term goals of Dr. Tranter’s research are to increase our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that promote the pathological progression from compensated left ventricular hypertrophy to de-compensated hypertrophy and maladaptive ventricular remodeling. Specifically, his laboratory studies the role of the RNA binding protein Human antigen R (HuR) is a novel mediator of pathological cardiac hypertrophy. As part of these projects, AHA-SURF students will learn isolation and culture primary cardiac myocytes, live cell imaging, and molecular cloning in addition to other standard molecular biology techniques to build healthier lives and free of heart disease.

Albert Philip Owens III

Albert Phillip Owens III, PhD

Role: Mentor
Assistant Professor (tenure-track) of Internal Medicine
Co-Director, Pathology and Molecular Medicine Graduate Program
Member, ATVB Early Career Committee
Member, ATVB Early Career Investigator Award Committee, AHA Scientific Sessions
Member, ATVB-council Vascular Discovery Program Nominating Committee
Yates Fellowship Program Selection Committee University of Cincinnati

Recently named the 2018 COM Research Rising Star, the goal of Dr. Owens’ research at the UC are to increase the understanding of thrombosis and coagulation in cardiovascular diseases with an emphasis on atherosclerosis and abdominal aortic aneurysm and translate these findings into more effective therapeutics to improve survival and quality of life for cardiovascular diseases patients. His long-term goals are to examine the effects of protease-activated receptor 2 in atherosclerosis and the gut microbiome in abdominal aortic aneurysm disease. His laboratory is funded by the NIH and Bayer Pharmaceuticals and is extremely well suited to train both undergraduate and graduate students.

Kevin Haworth

Kevin Haworth, PhD

Role: Mentor
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, and Pediatrics
Director of Data and Analytics, Medical Sciences Baccalaureate Program

Dr. Haworth’s research program focuses on the development of novel ultrasound technologies for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Studies include in silico, in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo investigations and include both therapeutics and imaging applications. Collaborating with research groups at UC and across the country, Dr. Haworth’s research include the development of novel imaging algorithms for monitoring cavitation-based therapies, including tissue ablation and blood-brain barrier disruption. Wet bench-oriented studies are focused on developing the technologies to reduce cardiac reperfusion injury associated with the oxygen paradox. Undergraduate students from engineering, biology, and medical sciences commonly participate in all areas of research within the laboratory.

Donald Lynch

Donald Lynch, MD, MSCI

Role: Mentor
Assistant Professor of Medicine 
Division of Cardiovascular Health and Disease
Member, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Dr. Lynch is an interventional cardiologist whose research focuses on understanding variability in response to antiplatelet therapy and investigation of the role of thrombo-inflammation in cardiovascular disease particularly as important in transcatheter valve interventions. He utilizes a combination of translational studies using patient samples in parallel with genetic manipulation of genes of interest in megakaryocyte cell lines using CRISPR technology. He investigates platelets using several imaging techniques including high dimension flow cytometry, fluorescent microscopy, and super resolution imaging. He additionally utilizes traditional bench techniques of Western blot, PCR, and ELISA. AHA-SURF student rotating in his lab will learn isolation of pure platelet population from whole blood, loading with fluorescent cargo, and molecular imaging to investigate endosomal trafficking.

Deeptankar DeMazumder

Deeptankar DeMazumder, MD, PhD

Role: Mentor
Assistant Professor (tenure-track) of Internal Medicine
Director, The Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence
Director, The Neurocardiology Research Laboratory
Attending Physician, Section of Cardiac Electrophysiology, University of Cincinnati Medical Center

Dr. DeMazumder completed his clinical and research Fellowships at Johns Hopkins University in Cardiology, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, and Neurocardiology. His longstanding goals are to transform clinical observations into testable research hypotheses, translate basic research findings into medical advances, and evaluate personalized treatment protocols in rigorous clinical trials, while caring for patients with heart rhythm disorders and improving their quality of life. His research integrates basic mechanistic studies of stress-induced alterations in heart-brain signaling that lead to critical illness (e.g., heart failure, sudden cardiac death) and complementary translational research employing novel artificial intelligence approaches in large multicenter clinical studies for early detection of subclinical critical illness. His areas of research focus include: (1) remodeling of brain and inflammatory/redox components in cardiovascular disease; and (2) design and validation of novel artificial intelligence algorithms revealing “hidden” critical illness and improving clinical outcomes. Dr. DeMazumder’s research has been supported by the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, NIH NHLBI K99, R00 and U54 awards, two Department of Defense grants, the Leducq Foundation, an AHA Transformational Project Award, and multiple grants on artificial intelligence from the AHA Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine.

Steering and Selection Committee

The AHA-SURF will have a steering and selection committee to oversee the recruitment, selection, program operations, students’ progress and evaluation process report. Dr. Koch, the program coordinator, will organize the committee meeting and complete the report in a timely manner. The committee consists of the following five members:

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