The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $3.9 million grant to a project led by principal investigator Nathan Tucker, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical research and translational medicine at Masonic Medical Research Institute (MMRI), for research into the genetic risks associated with cardiac arrhythmia.

The five-year study hopes to address locations within the genome that are linked to arrhythmia risk, research that can then be used for the development of new therapies.  

A cardiac arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heart, which can result in the heart not pumping enough blood throughout the body. When left untreated, this can lead to damage to other vital organs. While millions of Americans suffer from some form of cardiac arrhythmia, current treatments do not adequately address the full scope of the problem. 

“While there are clear genetic factors that contribute to the risk of arrhythmias, the mechanisms through which genetics confer risk remain unclear,” says Tucker in a release. “The goal of this project is to address this gap in knowledge and ultimately lead to facilitating new therapeutic development.”

Tucker’s research hopes to uncover the specific genes that could lead to cardiac arrhythmia in order to generate novel therapeutic approaches and guide clinical practices.

“We’re doing internationally recognized research in the Mohawk Valley,” says Tucker in the release. “The funding of this study will allow us to support talented scientists and their impactful projects right here in Utica, helping to grow our world-class scientific community.”

Maria Kontaridis, PhD, executive director and Gordon K. Moe professor and chair of biomedical research and translational medicine at MMRI, adds in the release, “We are grateful for the support provided by NHLBI to further Dr Tucker’s research and are confident in the strong impact it will make in the future of cardiovascular health.” 

Photo caption: Nathan Tucker, PhD, in MMRI Laboratory

Photo credit: MMRI