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Cardiology - Research

Overview and Faculty Research Interests


Research efforts are designed to promote more effective treatments for complex heart problems. Clinical research activities in the Cardiac Transplant Program have resulted in new therapies with a friendlier environment, including discharge home for the child awaiting transplantation. Other transplant-related research has found new avenues of manipulation for the immune system that have strikingly reduced the amount of rejection of the transplanted heart. Basic research on immunologic models is performed in collaboration with the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at University of Colorado School of Medicine (CU SOM). These technologies allow new insights into the process of organ tolerance, giving great hope for possibility of transplantation without chronic immunosuppression, and even the possibility of xenotransplantation.

Both basic and applied experimental studies are conducted on techniques/devices to repair heart defects (i.e., ASD, VSD, HLHS) without surgery. Collaborative efforts with the Biomechanical Engineering Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder, as well as the private community and adult cardiology programs at CU SOM, ensure relevant cutting-edge research in blood flow. Measurements of valve function and arterial remodeling with in vitro mock-up systems offer a greater understanding than would ever be possible in the complex environment of the body.

There is a key basic research initiative to understand the remodeling of pulmonary arteries in response to abnormal pressures and new ways of treating these high pressures. This laboratory research program is conducted in collaboration with a large clinical program to test new drugs for children with pulmonary hypertension. Additional ongoing studies assess the impact of various heart surgeries on long-term rehabilitation patients and ways to improve diagnostic and interventional catheterizations. There is a major research effort in understanding the circulation of children with only a single ventricle. Particularly, we are performing computer modelling on children whose venous circulation to the lungs is provided by passive flow rather than a right ventricle.


Dr. Scott R. Auerbach’s research interests include biomarkers, diastolic function and predictors of outcomes in pediatric heart failure and transplantation.

Dr. Cindy Barrett’s research focus are to improve the quality of care delivered to, and the clinical outcomes of, children with congenital heart disease.

Dr. Shannon Buckvold is interested in medical simulation as a tool for medical trainees and providers to acquire and maintain emergency management skills in cardiac patients.

Dr. Kathy Collins is pursuing research on the optimal location for pacemaker or ICD implant in pediatric patients based on device longevity, clinical outcomes, cosmetic result and patient satisfaction with their device location.

Dr. Eduardo da Cruz is interested in and pursues research in nutrition of the critically-ill cardiac patient; new monitoring technologies; and cardiovascular drugs.

Dr. Stephen Daniels is interested in the causes of blood pressure elevation and cholesterol abnormalities in children and adolescents, particularly the role that obesity may play in these health issues; development of structural and functional abnormalities in the heart and vascular system, including cardiovascular abnormalities occurring in pediatric patients with diabetes mellitus; as well as the relationship of left ventricular hypertrophy to obesity and hypertension. The role of lifestyle factors, such as diet and physical activity, is central to many of Dr. Daniels' studies.

Dr. Jeffery Darst’s clinical and research interests are in interventional catheterization, as well as, fellow education and physician efficiency.

Dr. Thomas Fagan’s research interests include development of a balloon-expandable vascular conduit, septal defect occlusion devices, atretic pulmonary valves, MRI evaluation of coarctation stent placement and low-profile stents, and long-term factors associated with subpulmonary artery obstruction.

Dr. Brian Fonseca is pursuing research in cardiac MRI measures of pulmonary hypertension severity.

Dr. Lisa Howley’s clinical and research interests include fetal echocardiography and pre-operative nutritional management of prostaglandin-dependent neonates.

Dr. Kendall Hunter’s research interests include cardiovascular biofluid mechanics; computational simulation of cardiovascular dynamics; mechanics-based diagnostics of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH); importance of vascular stiffness in diagnosis; and hemodynamics in animal models of PAH.

Dr. Jill Ibrahim's research interests include cardiac intensive care, cardiac transplant and mechanical support.

Dr. D. Dunbar Ivy is interested in research involving pulmonary hypertension, genomics, and proteomics of pulmonary vascular disease.

Dr. Pei-Ni Jone’s primary interests are in fetal echocardiography and outpatient cardiology.

Dr. Jonathan Kaufman’s research and clinical interests include management of congenital heart disease in neonates and infants, endocrinology of critical illness, resident and fellow education, and medically underserved communities.

Dr. Joseph Kay investigates outcomes and therapies for children and adults with congenital and valvular heart disease.

Dr. Bruce Landeck is interested in noninvasive means of evaluating ventricular function and synchrony, particularly using 3-D echocardiography.

Dr. Christopher M. Rausch is active in teaching and clinical research with interests in exercise testing, sudden cardiac death and heart rhythm devices.

Dr. Michael Schaffer's research examines electrophysiology, pediatric nuclear cardiology, pulmonary hypertension, and myocardial development in bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

Dr. Robin Shandas teaches and performs research in cardiovascular bioengineering, with specific focus on diagnostics and imaging in pulmonary hypertension, novel shape memory materials for minimally invasive medical devices, a novel artificial right ventricle for congenital heart disease, and medical ultrasonics.

Dr. Uyen T. Truong is specialized in echocardiography and MRI. Her research interests include cardiomechanics in congenital heart disease and implications for outcomes.

Dr. Karrie Villavicencio pursues research in echocardiography, pulmonary hypertension, tissue Doppler and fetal echocardiography.

Dr. Robert Wolfe's research interests are pulmonary hypertension at altitude, pediatric preventative cardiology, pulmonary vascular hypoxic response, altitude effects on systemic blood pressure, exercise physiology (anaerobic threshold), pediatric blood pressure tracking, and altitude-specific systemic blood pressure in a tri-racial pediatric population.

Dr. Elizabeth Yeung’s interests include congenital heart defects in adults, as well as, patients with lipid abnormalities.

Dr. Adel Younoszai’s research interests include digital information technology, Marfan syndrome, the use of Doppler imaging in pediatric cardiography, and fetal cardiac intervention.