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Cardiothoracic Research Laboratory

The Cardiothoracic Research Lab (CTRL) of the Emory University School of Medicine conducts basic and translational research in cardiac surgery, cardiothoracic diseases and treatment; trains basic science and clinical investigators in cardiothoracic research and therapeutics; and develops innovative strategies and devices to treat cardiothoracic diseases.

The CTRL Team

Dr. Robert Guyton

DIRECTOR: Robert A. Guyton, MD

Dr. Guyton has served as chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery of the Emory University School of Medicine since 1990. Throughout that time he has been involved in the creation and refinement of numerous cardiothoracic surgical techniques. In 1999, he and Dr. Omar Lattouf collaborated on the first implantation in the state of Georgia of an Abiomed biventricular assist system to support a patient suffering from heart failure due to postcardiotomy shock. Beginning in 2007, Dr. Guyton joined Emory CT surgeon scientist Dr. Vinod Thourani and Emory cardiologists Dr. Vasilis Babaliaros and Dr. Peter Block as one of the local surgical co-PIS  of the multi-center PARTNER I trial of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). The results of the national trial influenced FDA approval of the SAPIEN transfemoral transcatheter heart valve in 2011.

Dr. John Calvert

John W. Calvert, PhD

Dr. Calvert investigates the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease, with recent work focusing on the ability of hydrogen sulfide to activate cytoprotective-signaling cascades in the settings of acute myocardial ischemia and heart failure. This research has demonstrated that a concentrated administration of hydrogen sulfide either prior to ischemia or at reperfusion significantly ameliorates in vivo myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury in mice, with a clear reduction in myocardial infarction, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and contractile dysfunction. These studies have also found that hydrogen sulfide significantly attenuates the progression of ischemic-induced heart failure and improves survival following myocardial infarction. Dr. Calvert’s lab has identified the transcription factor Nrf2 as a major cellular target for hydrogen sulfide and a possible regulator of the cardioprotective effects induced by hydrogen sulfide, and is examining how hydrogen sulfide activates Nrf2 in models of heart failure and diabetes.

Other projects are evaluating the cardioprotective signaling mechanisms of voluntary exercise training, particularly the role of nitric oxide and beta-adrenergic signaling.

Studies detailing these findings have been published in such high impact journals as Circulation, Circulation Research, and Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

Dr. Muralidhar Padala

Muralidhar Padala, PhD

Dr. Padala and his team are investigating the pathogenesis of heart valve disease—one of the most common causes of cardiac surgery in adult Americans—and its impact on heart function and failure. Repair or replacement of the valve is performed to improve heart function. Dr. Padala's laboratory is interested in the basic mechanisms of valve pathophysiology, clinical techniques to repair valves, and the development of innovative heart valve repair/replacement technologies.


Basic Science: With the objective of discovering the optimal timing of heart valve repair/replacement, Dr. Padala's team is studying the impact of mitral valve and tricuspid valve regurgitation on structural and functional remodeling of the heart. This work was initially funded by a Leducq Fondation Career Development Award to Dr. Padala (2011-2014). Current funding is provided by a Scientist Development Grant he received from the American Heart Association (2014-2018).

Clinical Science: By studying the inadequacies of existing repair methods, the lab is working to develop new techniques to repair the mitral and tricuspid valves and the injured left ventricle associated with these valve diseases. Funding has been provided by the Carlyle Fraser Heart Center (2012-2015).

Innovations: While essential, the process of moving new concepts from the lab to the patient can be protracted and iterative. Dr. Padala's lab is dedicated to translating scientific concepts into patents and prototypes and is conducting the pre-clinical work required to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the lab's innovations. This work is funded by an NIH STTR grant (2012-2014), the Georgia Research Alliance (2012-2015), and the Wallace Coulter Foundation (2011-2013). Dr.Padala received the Innovation of the Year award from the Emory Office of Technology Transfer in 2011 for certain achievements in this area.

Visit Dr. Padala's website for his Structural Heart Research and Innovation Lab.

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