Lerner Research Institute News

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Dr. Mina Chung and Team Receives $14.2 Million from NIH for Research into New Atrial Fibrillation Treatments

Researchers aim to use genomic findings to identify novel therapeutics.


Cleveland Clinic has been awarded a $14.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for atrial fibrillation research. The five-year award will support four synergistic projects aimed at improving and finding new treatments for patients with atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm abnormality.

Led by Mina Chung, MD, a multidisciplinary team will focus on translating genomic findings to develop new therapeutic strategies for preventing and treating atrial fibrillation.

There are more than 6 million people in the U.S. living with atrial fibrillation, an irregular rhythm in the heart’s upper chambers. That number is expected to rise to 12.1 million by 2030. When untreated, atrial fibrillation doubles the risk of heart-related death and increases the chance of a stroke fivefold.

“There’s a significant need for new treatments for atrial fibrillation as there have been no new drugs approved in more than 10 years,” says Dr. Chung, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute and the Department of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Sciences in the Lerner Research Institute. “This grant will help us translate genomic discoveries in the lab to novel therapeutics for patients.”

The researchers aim to identify genomic and molecular mechanisms underlying atrial fibrillation to better understand the physiologic processes associated with development of the disease and its progression. The highly integrated projects will identify causal genes associated with atrial fibrillation and investigate disease mechanisms to find therapeutic targets and identify potential new drugs.

“Cleveland Clinic has a strong legacy of innovations for heart and vascular diseases,” says Serpil Erzurum, MD, Chief Research and Academic Officer. “This award has a highly novel and translational approach to find solutions for our patients, building on our culture of teamwork in research that accelerates our discovery.”

As part of the project, researchers will leverage biorepository samples, engineered heart tissues, and experimental models of spontaneous atrial fibrillation to examine the role of common genetic variants, obesity, diet and the gut microbiome. They also will use novel artificial intelligence-based algorithms to find and test existing drugs that can be repurposed for atrial fibrillation and develop a pipeline for testing these drugs.

The team, which includes specialists from Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute and Lerner Research Institute, has been working collaboratively for nearly 20 years and published more than 40 major papers together, making significant contributions to the field of atrial fibrillation mechanisms and cardiac genomics.

Dr. Chung’s co-investigators include Jonathan Smith, Ph.D.; David Van Wagoner, Ph.D.; Sarah Schumacher-Bass, Ph.D.; and Sathyamangla Prasad, Ph.D., of the Department of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Sciences; John Barnard, Ph.D., of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Feixiong Cheng, Ph.D., of the Genomic Medicine Institute, Robert Koeth, M.D., Ph.D. of the Departments of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Sciences and Cardiovascular Medicine, and Kenneth Laurita, Ph.D., of MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University.

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