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.