Funding CHD research to help save lives

While a person suffering from CHD can have their heart defect surgically repaired, the chronic disease associated with the heart condition cannot be cured. This is why further research is so critical. Innovative research and emerging medical technologies offer an enormous impact on the survival and long-term care of individuals affected by CHD.

It is our ongoing mission to not only directly support research of the disease, but also to unify the CHD community to generate national awareness. This will ultimately help fuel widespread contribution to these research programs. Advocacy leads to funding, which advances research and, ultimately, saves lives.

CHD research is seriously underfunded due to a lack of public recognition.

We have granted $1,000,000 to research programs

To date, the CHD Coalition has granted $1,000,000 to carefully selected research programs led by progressive hospitals across the United States, including:

2021$41,100Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
Effect of perfusion strategy on brain injury in infants with HLHS
Deep Hypothermic Circulatory Arrest (DHCA) has been the common perfusion strategy during surgery for patients with HLHS, with growing evidence that the decrease in blood flow - and thus oxygen - to the brain has led to new or worsened brain injury for these patients. Recently, there has been promising data that suggests the newer Antegrade Cerebral Perfusion (ACP) method has fewer or less severe neurological injuries. This study seeks to qualify and quantify this significance, which could in turn improve outcomes and quality of life for HLHS patients undergoing procedures that require a perfusion strategy.
2021$50,000Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
Surgical Creation of a Lympho-Venous Anastomosis to Treat Lymphatic Failure
A well-known and common byproduct of the Fontan procedure for single-ventricle heart patients, is increased central venous pressures, which can lead to decreased ability for the lymphatic system to properly drain. This lymphatic failure can create issues with swelling, effusions and organ dysfunction that can lead to higher mortality. This study aims to successfully recreate lymphatic failure in swine models and then develop surgical procedures to help alleviate the failure. Since lymphatic failure is seen to be one of the biggest causes of organ dysfunction and ultimately heart failure, this study’s potential impact could be to greatly increase patient quality of life and mortality.
2020$50,000Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
The impact of hyperoxemia on cerebral mitochondrial function during bypass.
Brain injury after congenital cardiac surgery continues to be a persistent and devastating complication, and its incidence has not significantly decreased despite decades of improved survival following surgery. The cause of these injuries is still not entirely understood, but one theory is that they are caused by exposure to high levels of oxygen during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB). This study will examine the mitochondrial and brain tissue effects of different oxygen levels on CPB, in the hopes of improving the understanding of brain injury during cardiac surgery.
2020$50,000Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
Mitigating glycation mechanisms that limit the use of bioprosthetic valves for treating congenital heart disease.
When used in children, Bioprosthetic heart valves (BHV) tend to fail sooner than when used in adult care. The goal of this project is to investigate a new method of preparing bioprosthetic heart valves that will potentially allow safe application of these devices for children with CHD. This project aims to develop a strategy for extending the longevity and function of bioprosthetic implants. The outcomes of our studies can pave the way to improving the quality of life of children with congenital heart valve defects.
2019$50,000Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
Development of a Reliable Means for Functional Assessment of Liver Performance After the Fontan- Dual Cholate Clearance Assay
It is recognized that patients born with complex heart conditions who have successfully undergone palliation with a Fontan operation are at risk for advanced liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis, and even liver cancer over time. Though liver appearance of fibrosis and cirrhosis can be assessed by various imaging modalities and liver biopsy, there is insufficient understanding on liver function in Fontan patients – and it is suggested that conventional laboratory tests may not be accurate or sensitive in this population. The dual cholate clearance assay is a test used to measure liver function in other types of liver disease and has been shown to predict liver-related complications and may be able to predict more subtle or sub-clinical liver abnormalities that blood tests cannot detect. It is proposed that the dual cholate clearance assay may be a more reliable means of measuring liver function in the Fontan patient. The results of this research will help clinicians better understand the nature of liver disease in these single ventricle survivors.
2019$50,000Columbia University/New York Presbyterian HospitalNew York, NY
Development of an innovative biometric patch to improve the durability of valve repairs in patients with CHDs
One of the best ways to treat a diseased heart valve is to repair it during a heart surgery. During the operation, the surgeon uses a piece of something (called” patch”) to repair the valve. But the patches that are currently available do not work well with time: they come from animals, become stiffer, do not move well and have to be removed again. It is believed that a fabricated patch (a “biomimetic” patch), that mimics the structure and layers of a human heart valve, would behave exactly like our own valve and could function for a long time after the surgery without stiffening. This research will fabricate this new generation of patch by using soft and stable polymers. This idea is completely new, and the impact can be huge. If the patch does not become stiff with time, it will work forever after the surgery. Which means: no other surgery, no hospital admission, no risk of dying from the surgery, no complications, a longer and healthier life with a great quality of life and less money spent on these surgeries.
2019$50,000Columbia University/New York Presbyterian HospitalPhiladelphia, PA
Mechanisms of myocardial regeneration mediated by fibulin genes in zebrafish
As an extension of the previously funded studies in the Targoff lab addressing the role of Nkx2.5 in myocardial regeneration, this ongoing research delves deeper into the downstream targets of this master cardiac transcription factor. Employing zebrafish as a model organism, RNA-Sequencing experiments were performed to reveal key mediators downstream of Nkx2.5 that are essential in promoting repair following cardiac injury. The Targoff lab identified Fibulin genes, extracellular matrix proteins, as crucial effectors of Nkx2.5 function. They will examine how Fibulin genes regulate cardiomyocyte proliferation and how they establish an extracellular environment that enhances regenerative potential. Ultimately, they aim to understand the mechanisms guiding Nkx2.5-dependent cardiac regeneration in order to have a significant impact on the management of patients with congenital heart disease and cardiomyopathies. These innovations will yield valuable strategies to enhance cardiomyocyte production and to establish extracellular matrix networks that will ameliorate therapies in pediatric and adult patients suffering from impaired myocardial function.
2018$50,000Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
There are a number of complex congenital heart defects (CHDs) in which the heart is repaired in such a way that some portion of it experiences abnormal stress and pressure. In these surgically treated CHDs (e.g., Tetralogy of Fallot and Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome), the right ventricle, which is normally smaller than the left ventricle, is subject to additional stress. The additional stress on the right ventricle results in hypertrophy (enlargement) and creates scar tissue and other abnormalities over time. In some cases, this "remodeling" of the right ventricle leads more rapidly to right ventricle failure than in other cases, which are often otherwise very similar. Why should some patients experience right ventricle failure while other, similar patients maintain good right ventricle function for a much longer time? This study, conducted by Dr. Jonathan Edwards and team at CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) is looking to answer that question by examining the genetic building blocks (DNA, RNA transcription, protein formation) of heart muscle growth. Understanding how and why right ventricular function (RVF) is preserved can lead to the development of medications and other interventions to improve RVF for all CHD patients who are at risk of such complications.
2018$30,000Columbia University/New York Presbyterian HospitalNew York, NY
In 2017, the CHD Coalition provided a $50,000 grant to Dr. Kimara Targoff's team at Columbia Presbyterian to help them further their work examining the NKX2.5 family of genes, and their role in the formation of the embryonic heart. They experimented using Zebra fish (because of their similarity to mammals, ease of breeding rapidly, and visual transparency.Over the course of 2018, the team explored the connection between these genes and heart formation in the zebra fish, modifying the expression of these genes and noting the resulting differences in cardiac development. With a greater understanding of how, and when, NKX genes affect heart formation, they are looking to dig deeper into the mechanics of this development. What exactly is happening between DNA, RNA transcription and protein formation, that defines this connection between genetics and heart growth? Whereas the first portion of the study focused on heart formation, this 2nd phase will more narrowly examine that connection in the context of repair (for example, of a torn heart muscle) in the hopes of more clearly understanding the specific transcription mechanics at work. This important work brings the medical community yet another step closer to understanding how CHDs form, and what kind of interventions can prevent or treat them. The CHD Coalition is proud to be able to contribute again to further this work by awarding a 2018 research grant.
2018$30,000Boston Children's HospitalBoston, MA
Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF) is the most common cyanotic congenital heart defect. Patients who undergo ToF repair very often have residual defects (e.g., leaky or narrowed pulmonary valve, or a narrowing of the branch pulmonary arteries) Over time, these defects cause stress and deterioration of the right ventricle. Surgical and procedural interventions (such as pulmonary valve replacement) are very helpful in preventing or slowing this deterioration, but it's very difficult to know WHEN to intervene. If intervention is performed too late the heart may be damaged by stress, but surgical procedures performed too early can be debilitating and should be minimized. The goal of this study, which is being led by Dr. Valeria Duarte is to provide doctors with a better guide to making this determination by correlating something that's easy to measure (tolerance to exercise) with some thing that's much harder to measure: the degree of ventrical dilation apparent in analysis of CMR (Cardiac Magnetic Resonance) image data. The study will make use of, and contribute to, a multi-center database (International Multi-center ToF Registry) specifically to look at exercise capacity as it relates to the measurement of ventricular size and function. Giving doctors the tools to apply optimal timing to valve-replacement surgeries can improve the quality of life for many patients with a CHD.
2017$50,000Columbia PresbyterianNew York, NY
"Genetic Marker NKX2-5 and Heart Development"
In a human embryo, the heart develops in two major phases. In the first phase, stem cells become heart cells and line up in a tube shape. In the 2nd phase, the tube folds over, with one end becoming the right (pulmonary) side and the other becoming the left (aortic) side. There is a particular gene called (NKX2-5) that controls this 2nd phase of development - which is when many heart defects begin to appear. The funding provided to Columbia University by the CHD Coalition is enabling a study of this gene led by Dr. Kimara Targoff. The study will use genetically modified Zebra fish to better understand how the gene it affects the development of the heart in this 2nd phase. Zebra fish are used because their genes are similar to humans, and because they are easy to study and breed quickly. Their embryos and larvae are also completely transparent, making it easy to see what has occurred in development. The knowledge gained from this study will help with early detection for risk (via genetic marker) and - perhaps more important - may lead to the development of genetic or protein therapies with a possibility of correcting early heart development.Official Title of Research: Mechanisms of Second Heart Field Development Regulated by crisp Genes Downstream of Nkx Factors
2017$50,000Children’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
"Placental Dysfunction and CHDs"
A growing amount of experimental research has determined that there is a link between the development of the heart and the placenta. Fetuses with CHDs are known to have abnormal placentas. The health of placenta itself is difficult to assess - usually it can only be studied after the child is born. However, there is a relatively new way to measure the blood flow in the umbilical cord with ultrasound. The measurement is called Umbilical Venous Volume Flow or UVVF for short. The money we are donating to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia will fund a comprehensive study, led by Dr. Jack Rychik that will, for the first time, examine the correlation between UVVF measurements and CHDs. The study will compare the UVVF measurements of fetuses with CHDs to those of fetuses without CHDs, and will also correlate the UVVF measurements to a more detailed assessment of the health of the placenta after the child is born. The outcome of this study may result in greater acceptance of the UVVF measurement as a reliable early indicator of fetal cardiac problems, and as a way of monitoring whether or not efforts to improve placental function - and the health of the child - are working.Official Title of Research: Blood Flow and Placental Structural Characteristics in the Fetus with Congenital Heart Disease
2016$50,000Columbia University Medical CenterNew York, NY
"Valve Prosthesis with Growth"
The objective of this research proposal is to produce and evaluate a prototype of an innovative non-biological mechanically-engineered valved prosthesis which could grow with time, avoiding multiple reoperations in children and adults with CHDs and improving their quality of life. Such a new generation of valved device would be based on a mechanical disruptive concept, never used before in currently available valve prosthesis. If successful, such a device could have a significant impact on the quality of life by avoiding surgery and saving lives, as well as a positive impact to financial, emotional and social aspects related to valve replacement.
2016$50,162.32Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
"Molecular signals involved in the growth and development of systemic-pulmonary arterial collateral vessels"
Children with forms of single ventricle heart disease are known to be at significantly higher risk for a number of complications and shortened lifespan. One particular problem unique to children with single ventricle heart disease is the development of systemic-pulmonary arterial collateral flow. This study will help to better understand the causes of collateral vessel formation; it may be possible to develop a specific drug therapy that reduces collateral formation and potentially improve the quality of life for children with single ventricle heart disease.
2015$50,000Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
Elizabeth Goldmuntz, MD
“Genotype Identifies the At-Risk Population for Long Term Complications in Tetralogy of Fallot”
Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is one of the most common types of CHD, with 1200 new cases each year in the U.S. The majority of patients survive the initial surgical repair, however, patients experience early mortality resulting from residual lesions such that adults with TOF have four times the risk of death compared to those without CHD. Over time, right ventricular dysfunction may develop making it difficult for the right ventricle to properly pump blood into the lungs. The right ventricular dilation is thought to be a primary reason for the poor exercise tolerance, rhythm disturbances, risk of sudden death, and diminished quality of life seen in this patient population. The goal of the study is to (1) confirm the association of RV fibrosis with RV function suggested by other studies, and (2) identify genetic factors that modulate the degree of fibrosis in the right ventricle in the patient with TOF so that the at-risk population may be identified and test therapies that may decrease the degree of fibrosis to decrease associated morbidities and improve clinical outcomes.
2014$48,423Boston Children's HospitalBoston, MA
Jean Anne Connor, PhD, RN, CPNP
“Consortium for Congenital Cardiac Care Measurement of Nursing Practice (C4-MNP)”
While it takes a team of medical professionals to care for a child, nurses represent the single largest provider pf inpatient care and can have a drastic impact on patient outcomes. Yet little has been studied about their positive contribution, and significant variation in patient outcomes continues to exist. The purpose of the consortium is to establish a national standard for pediatric cardiovascular nursing measurement, with the goal of benchmarking nursing care activities that contribute to improved patient outcomes in a highly complex environment and population of patients.
2014$15,000Icahn School of MedicineNew York, NY
Kanwal M. Farooqi, MD
“Creation and Validation of Low Cost 3D Cardiac Models from MRI in Patients with Congenital Heart Disease”
3D printing offers the possibility of creating physical replicas of the heart, coming as close as possible to holding the patient’s heart in one’s hand prior to the operating room. Use of these 3D cardiac models allows a cardiologist to communicate a patients’ congenital heart defect by simply demonstrating a physical replica. However, many of the techniques used can been improved upon to produce better 3D models for visualization of intra-cardiac anatomy, and may be performed in a more cost effective manner. This study aims to establish imaging protocols to optimize the usage of this technology and address its feasibility for cost effectiveness so it can be routinely implemented in a clinical setting. By demonstrating the creation of these models on a low cost 3D printer, this study will validate measurements made on the models using measurements from the original cardiac MRI for comparison.
2013$50,000Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
Francis X. McGowan, Jr., MD; Matthew J. Gillespie, MD
“Cell-based Rescue of Ventricular Failure in Congenital Heart Disease”
Over time, endogenous cardiac stem cell are progressively injured and depleted as heart failure develops in patients with congenital heart disease. These cells, normally resident in the heart, can help restore heart muscle and blood vessels and stimulate supply substances needed for limiting damage to the heart and enhancing its repair. These cardiac-directed stem cells can be safely and effectively isolated from small samples of a congenital cardiac patient’s own tissues. This will allow for their numbers to be increased and their properties manipulated in the laboratory, leading to administration back into the heart and resulting in significant improvement in the cardiac dysfunction and reversal of the pathologic remodeling that are the hallmarks of fatal heart failure.
2013$5,000Cohen Children's Medical Center of New YorkNew York, NY
Rubin S. Cooper, MD
“Echocardiographic Assessment of Right Ventricular Function Using Speckle Tracking Imagine (STI) Technology Compared to Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)”
Currently, cardiac MRI is the gold standard to assess ventricular function. This is a laborious, time consuming and expensive modality of imaging. If the same information regarding heart function can be obtained with echocardiogram using STI then this will be a cost effective method.
2012$50,000Children's Hospital at MontefioreNew York, NY
Nadine Choueiter, MD; Robert H. Pass, MD
This study investigates how well cardiac MRI predicts the coronary artery anatomy in Tetralogy of Fallot patients who are undergoing the new MELODY valve implantation, which is a relatively new procedure that allows an alternative to traditional open-heart pulmonary valve replacement. The MELODY valve is placed using a catheter that is guided into the heart from a vein in the leg or neck, eliminating the open-heart surgery normally used, which is much more invasive and dangerous.
2011$50,000Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PA
Jack Rychik, MD; Kathryn M. Dodds, RN, MSN, CRNP
“Single Ventricle Survivorship Program”
Improving the quality of life and finding new treatments for patients with single ventricle heart defects is one of the most pressing challenges in pediatric cardiology. The Single Ventricle Survivorship Program was created to focus attention on the challenges faced by these patients and to help improve quality and duration of life. While many patients lead highly functional and active lives after single ventricle surgery in childhood, there are, however, certain health problems, not limited to the heart, being recognized with increasing frequency.

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