June 6th , 2024 – Major British Heart Foundation Funding Awarded

We are pleased to announce The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute has recently been granted 2 major BHF Awards worth £500,00 over 3 years.

The first is a BHF Project Grant awarded to Dr Siavash Kalkhoran. Dr Kalkhoran’s research project titled ‘Investigating the cardioprotective effects of targeting mitochondrial dynamics in chronic kidney disease has been funded for 3 years to a value of £348,250. The project is a joint collaboration between The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, UCL and the Centre for Nephrology at The Royal Free Hospital, with Prof Derek Yellon and Prof Alan Salama as Principal Investigators respectively.

The research will encompass multiple aspects of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its effects on cardiovascular health.  Patients with CKD have damaged kidneys which prevent them from eliminating toxic waste and bodily fluids. CKD not only affects the kidneys but also affects the function of other organs, especially the heart. Hence, patients with CKD have a higher risk of developing heart and circulatory problems such as heart attacks. However, current therapeutic options for saving heart function following a heart attack are limited for patients with CKD.

CKD alters the mitochondrial dynamics in both kidneys and heart to exacerbate the inflammation-induced severity of myocardial IRI. Dr Kalkhoran and the research team will investigate the main reasons why mitochondria lose shape and understand the repercussion of this incident following a heart attack in a model of CKD. The research project will aid in the identification of novel therapeutic targets that tackle inflammation to promote cardioprotection in patients with CKD.

 Dr Kalkhoran undertook his PhD at the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, UCL in 2018 and returned as a post-doctoral research fellow in 2022. We are thrilled to see his research career progress in this way and are grateful to the BHF for their support of our research.

The second grant is a BHF MBPhD awarded to Mike Sun which and will begin in the autumn. The research project titled ‘Using a novel direct activator of PI3-kinase alpha to investigate cardioprotection’ will be supervised by Prof Sean Davidson and Prof Derek Yellon and is valued at £154,700 for a term of 3 years.

Patient outcomes following acute myocardial infarction (AMI) have improved, however methods to limit ischaemia and reperfusion (IR) injury in AMI patients remain an important unmet clinical need. We have identified the PI3-kinase / AKT signalling pathway (referred to as the “Reperfusion Injury Salvage Kinase” or RISK pathway) as centrally involved in many cardioprotective drugs able to reduce myocardial infarct size after IR in preclinical studies. This research project will focus on further investigating the mechanism of protection by PI3Kalpha, and allow us to optimize the further development of these drugs for eventual use in humans to improve the outcome of patients who have a heart attack.