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Cardiac MRI and Blood Markers

Olga Toro-Salazar, MD, director of noninvasive imaging for Connecticut Children’s cardiology program, received a $250,000 grant to support her research on cardiac MRI and blood markers used to identify early predictors of heart damage among pediatric cancer patients. Her research will allow for the development of new therapies to keep young patients’ hearts healthy as they grow into adults.

Dr. Toro-Salazar was one of 41 recipients across the United States honored with a 2012 Hyundai Hope Grant.

Blood Conservation

Mohsen Karimi, MD, associate chief of pediatric cardiac surgery, has been working for the past seven years to eliminate or reduce complications from blood transfusions through his research on blood conservation surgery.

Also known as bloodless surgery, the approach offers an advanced method of providing medical care to minimize blood loss before, during and after treatment, while reducing the need for blood transfusions.

Dr. Karimi’s research explores blood conservation measures and the development of improved surgical techniques to improve outcomes, including the use of sophisticated heart-lung bypass support and equipment, allowing for limited or no blood transfusion during cardiac surgery.

To date, his work has demonstrated that patients requiring fewer or no blood transfusions have a reduced need for heart medications, require shorter ventilator support, have a lower complication rate and a shorter length of hospital stay.

Immunodeficiency, Fontan Screening and the Psychological Impact of CHD

Brooke T. Davey, MD is the Director of the Echocardiography Laboratory and is the principal investigator for several research projects at Connecticut Children’s. T-Cell receptor excision circles: a novel approach to identify immunodeficiency in newborns with congenital heart disease is a cooperative effort with the Connecticut (CT) Newborn Screening Program to study pediatric patients with cardiac disease at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. It has enrolled 581 children with congenital heart disease in CT and evaluates T-cell Receptor Excision Circles (TREC) levels drawn during newborn screening and their role as a biomarker of immunodeficiency in this population.

Dr. Davey is also the principal investigator for the project Parental reaction and psychological coping after diagnosis of congenital heart disease. This study examines parental reaction and psychological coping after diagnosis of congenital heart disease. In addition, she is a member of the New England Congenital Cardiology Association Fontan Working Group. She designed and implemented Surveillance and screening of the Fontan patient, a survey for congenital cardiology providers within New England exploring the surveillance and management of low- and high-risk Fontan patients. The results of this survey will inform future research on single ventricle patients in New England.

Dr. Davey is committed to advancing the research program within the Division of Cardiology at Connecticut Children’s with the ultimate goal of providing evidence behind screening and management decisions to optimize care for patients with congenital heart disease.

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