The University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha is part of a seven university consortium that will focus on mapping the heart’s nervous system. More than 800,000 people in the U.S. die each year from heart failure, arrhythmia and hypertension. An $8.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will be used to map the heart’s nervous system. Their goal is to conduct research that leads to new ways to treat cardiovascular disease by targeting the nerves in the heart.
Dr. Irving Zucker is the professor and chair of the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology and the principal investigator of the study. Understanding the nervous system’s control of the heart is a complex problem and many experts will be coming together for this study. Dr. Zucker says UNMC’s specific role is map the locations of all these nerve endings and how they participate in acute and chronic cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Zucker says, A lot of this is laborious, pick and shovel work. Will take many years to work out but after it is all said and done we’ll have a better understanding of the role of the nerves in the generation of arrhythmias and cardiac pump function so we can target new therapies directly to these sites.”
Dr. Zucker’s research team has a program project grant studying chronic heart failure that has brought in more than $32 million in continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health since its inception in 1999.