CVPath Yearly Summary: 2023
Dear Friends and Colleagues of CVPath,
On behalf of everyone at CVPath Institute, it is my pleasure to wish you, your families, and your teams a happy, safe, and productive New Year.
We thank you for your friendship and continued support of our work at CVPath during 2023. It has been a productive year for the Institute, including several noteworthy achievements and developments. Here are some highlights:
- 2023 brought some new and some old faces to CVPath. Rika Kawakami, a cardiologist/pathologist from Japan, joined us as a staff pathologist. Rika had been training as a research fellow at CVPath under the direction of Dr. Virmani and myself, and in her new role will perform preclinical pathology analyses as well as basic research studies. Kawakami comes with an impressive list of publications, including an important review on COVID-19 infection and the heart published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2021 (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33478655/). We expect her to continue making valuable contributions to the Institute.
- Elena Ladich joined us as Chief of Pathology. Ladich is an accomplished cardiac pathologist who previously worked at CVPath before moving in 2016 to work at Pathology Consultants of South Broward as Medical Director of Pathology. I was pleased to be able to entice her back to CVPath in 2023. Given her extensive expertise in cardiac pathology, Dr. Ladich represents an important addition to our team.
- The new year marks a transition in the leadership of CVPath. Renu Virmani is transitioning to President Emeritus and Founder and I am honored to assume the title of President and Chief Scientific Officer. After 18 years at the helm of CVPath, Dr. Virmani will spend most of her time working on research and training fellows. We congratulate her on her new role and applaud her continuing commitment to CVPath.
Meetings and Conferences
Dr. Virmani attended the 41st Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society of Cardiovascular Intervention and Therapeutics (CIVIT2023), held in August in Fukuoka, Japan. While at the meeting, a dinner was held to celebrate the many generations of fellows who have completed their cardiac pathology research training at CVPath Institute over the years.
I also had a busy year, presenting data on numerous research studies, including those involving drug-coated balloons, new left atrial appendage occlusion devices, stents, and more basic mechanisms of atherosclerosis at national and international meetings. CVPath’s research presentations continue to play an important role in helping cardiologists and researchers throughout the world understand how new treatments affect the vascular system and provide new data on important characteristics of human atherosclerosis.
Grants and Contracts
CVPath continues to play an important role in the National Institutes of Health RECOVER initiative, which seeks to understand more about the long-term effects of COVID. We are partnering with NYU and Howard University to collect autopsy specimens to learn more about the long-term effect of COVID-19 on the heart and other organs. As part of this project, we are conducting a sub-study to understand the role of post-mortem cardiac MRI as a diagnostic tool and evaluate the long-term effects of COVID-10 on coronary artery disease.
- 2023 was CVPath’s final year of participation in the Leducq Foundation’s Transatlantic Networks of Excellence Award, where we and multiple European and American collaborators sought to define the role of smooth muscle cells in Late Stage Atherosclerotic Plaque Pathogenesis.
- Together with Triton Systems, CVPath was awarded a grant from the Advanced Research Project Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to study Microneedle-based Patch for Remote and Real-time Transdermal Delivery for Cardiovascular Disease. The project will evaluate the use of microneedles as a novel method to deliver drugs.
On the publications front, CVPath researchers also had an outstanding year:
- In February, we published an original research paper led by Yu Sato on the translational value of preclinical models for renal denervation which highlights how results in preclinical models using the pig are useful to predict safety in humans. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36214318/). This paper becomes even more relevant in light of the FDA’s recent approval of renal denervation for uncontrolled hypertension.
- Also in February, we published an original research paper led by Anne Cornelissen on the relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and cardiac findings at autopsy in subjects with sudden death (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36372247/). Essentially, this paper shows that the cause of death is not associated with neighborhood disadvantage, a finding which suggests that social factors other than neighborhood disadvantage play a role in sudden cardiac death.
- In March, we published an original research paper led by Atsushi Sakamoto showing that a specific type of macrophage (i.e. CD163+) within coronary plaques restrains the development of vascular calcification and promotes the development of high-risk plaques (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36719758/). Such data further enhance our understanding of atherosclerosis biology.
- In March, we also published an original research paper led by Takao Konishi about coronary medial thickness which tends to vary depending upon location within the coronary tree (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37000804/). Such data may be useful for interventional cardiologists to understand more fully variations in coronary artery structure.
- In May, we published an original research paper led by Kenji Kawai showing that a new device used for left atrial appendage closure in subjects with atrial fibrillation to prevent stroke demonstrated promising results in an experimental animal model (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37204356/). This device, made by Boston Scientific, was recently approved by the FDA for clinical use. These data look promising and suggest that it may reduce complications and improve outcomes for patients receiving left atrial appendage closure.
- In June, Dr. Finn was part of a team of investigators from the NIH RECOVER initiative, which examines causes and potential treatments for Long COVID and has already led to the publication of papers on the definition of Long COVID as well as the study design and protocol (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37278994/, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37352211/).
- In July, we published an original research paper led by Yu Sato demonstrating preclinical safety data for a new drug-coated balloon in a preclinical model (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37003576/). This type of data will help push this new technology into the clinic and may help to improve the safety of new devices.
- In September, we published an original research paper led by Kenji Kawai on the effect of intravascular lithotripsy on vascular calcification using microCT (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37704295/). These data demonstrate how newer technologies such as the Shockwave device work to fracture calcium in the vessel wall, allowing for more successful interventional treatments.
- In December, we published an original research paper, again led by Kenji Kawai, examining whether smooth muscle cells in advanced human coronary plaques are of clonal origin (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37881937/). Using sophisticated imaging techniques, we showed that, contrary to previous reports, most smooth muscle cells in the plaque are not of clonal origin. Such data help us understand the basic mechanisms of atherosclerosis.
These are only a sample of the many publications that were accepted during 2023. For a complete list, please refer to our website (www.cvpath.org).
In the New Year that’s now upon us, watch for exciting new research findings from CVPath in the fields of atherosclerosis biology, structural heart devices, drug-eluting devices, and genetic risk factors for human atherosclerosis. We almost always highlight new findings on our social media accounts (linkedin: @CVPath Institute, Inc., X: @CVPath_Md), our website (www.cvpath.org), or on my personal accounts (linkedin: @aloke-finn or X: @alokefinn). We intend once again to be energetic, entrepreneurial, meticulous—and productive.
Thank you again for your continued support of CVPath. Dr. Virmani and all our colleagues at the Institute join me in looking forward to working with you in the New Year and wishing you a very happy one. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or suggestions that you may have.
Aloke Finn, MD
President and Chief Scientific Officer