The 17th annual Northwestern Cardiovascular Young Investigators' Forum (NCYIF) attracts early career physician-scientists across the country. Held October 14-16, this year’s program included research advances in metabolic disease, heart failure, health care disparities, and implementation science from fellows and junior faculty.
Race/Ethnicity and Sex Differences in Lifetime Healthcare Expenses Across Cardiovascular Risk Factors
Rohan Khera, MD, MS, an assistant professor in the Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, received the Jeremiah Stamler Distinguished Young Investigator Research Award for Excellence in Clinical Science Cardiovascular Research, which is the top award in the junior faculty clinical research category and carries a prize of $10,000. His abstract, “Race/Ethnicity and Sex Differences in Lifetime Healthcare Expenses Across Cardiovascular Risk Factors,” examines the role of socioeconomic factors on healthcare expenses across the lifetime of individuals and demonstrated that there are patterns suggestive of deferred care manifesting as excess spending among minorities in later life. Khera leads the Cardiovascular Data Science (CarDS) Lab that focuses on data driven applications to improve cardiovascular care.
Khera noted, “Participating in the NCYIF provides an opportunity to interact with the most talented peers in basic, clinical, population, and translational science and obtain valuable feedback from pillars in the field. My research interests are focused defining precision strategies to improve cardiovascular care and build a better understanding of the challenges faced by our patients. This award will help further my investigation.”
A Machine Learning Approach to Individualize the Cardiovascular Benefits of Canagliflozin Based on Participant-level Analyses of the CANVAS Trials
Evangelos Oikonomou, MD, DPhil, a first-year clinical fellow in the Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, who is a member of the CarDS Lab and is mentored by Khera, received first-place in the fellows category for his work, “A Machine Learning Approach to Individualize the Cardiovascular Benefits of Canagliflozin Based on Participant-level Analyses of the CANVAS Trials.” The study assesses a strategy to individualize the use of sodium-glucose transport protein 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors in patients with type 2 diabetes and an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease.
The competition had broad representation from the Yale School of Medicine, with Giorgio Mottola, MD and Jennifer M. Kwan, MD, PhD, also invited to present their research in the basic science fellow category.
Short-term hypercholesterolemia exposure in mice induces persistent phenotypic changes in aortic smooth muscle cells
Mottola, a cardiology fellow on the T32 research pathway at the Yale Cardiovascular Research Center and a member of the Greif Lab, shared insights regarding the effects of brief periods of hypercholesterolemia on the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis in “Short-term hypercholesterolemia exposure in mice induces persistent phenotypic changes in aortic smooth muscle cells.”
Myocardial Impact of Clonal Hematopoiesis of Indeterminate Potential (CHIP) Secretomes in Cardio-oncology patients
Kwan, a cardio-oncology fellow in the Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, presented data on her research, “Myocardial Impact of Clonal Hematopoiesis of Indeterminate Potential (CHIP) Secretomes in Cardio-oncology patients.” CHIP is a condition that increases with age and is caused by mutations, such as TET2, in hematopoietic stem cells, that can significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart failure, blood borne malignancies, and mortality. TET2 CHIP has been shown to be associated with increased levels of IL1b and IL1b inhibition lead to a significant reduction of major adverse cardiovascular events in ischemic heart failure patients.
Cancer patients with CHIP have been shown to have worse cardiovascular outcomes than those without CHIP. Kwan found a high prevalence of CHIP in a pilot study of pre-chemotherapy breast cancer patients (with over 90 oncology patients enrolled) and serum profiling of >70 cytokines/chemokines showed that IL1b levels were not significantly elevated in TET2 CHIP breast cancer patients, suggesting that these patients may have a unique cytokine profile. Further, evaluation of the effect of CHIP sera on 3D engineered heart tissue showed that there was an impact on contractility in CHIP compared to non-CHIP sera treated tissues. Ongoing research is underway to evaluate the mechanisms behind these effects, follow up on post chemotherapy patients and enrollment of both cancer and non-cancer patients to evaluate differences in their cytokines and gene expression profiles. The goal is to move toward a precision medicine approach to improve cardiovascular outcomes of cancer patients with CHIP and help shed light on potential therapeutic targets for non-cancer patients with CHIP.
"The meeting provided great networking and mentoring opportunities with talented colleagues and leaders in their field," Kwan added.
Previous Yale awardees at the forum include Katherine Rose Clapham, MD, a former fellow in the Section of Cardiovascular Medicine now at Brigham and Women's Hospital, who placed third in the 2019 Junior Faculty award for Basic Science for her research titled, “Loss of Endothelial p300 Leads to Exacerbation of Pulmonary Hypertension.”
About the Jeremiah Stamler Distinguished Young Investigator Research Award
Established in 2005, the Jeremiah Stamler Distinguished Young Investigator Research Award recognizes progressive work in cardiovascular research and preventive medicine. The $10,000 award supports current or future cardiovascular research.