Media Contacts

Stacy W. Kish

Science Writer, University of Utah Health
Phone: 801-587-2596

Jan 10, 2019 10:30 AM


Recovering a failing heart is not science fiction. The seventh annual Utah Cardiac Recovery Symposium (U-CARS) will explore the latest research and treatments available to recover and regenerate heart tissue to improve the muscle’s efficiency and function. The event will be hosted by University of Utah Health at the Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni House on Jan. 17–18 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“U-CARS is a unique event because it brings together thought leadership from across the country to address heart recovery,” said Craig Selzman, M.D., professor and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at U of U Health. “We are bringing together experts to share ideas, debate paradigms and explore information focused on issues related to myocardial recovery and regeneration.”

Media are welcome to join the symposium. Join us at this link or here All times are listed as Mountain Standard Time. An overview of the sessions is available in the agenda for each day.

“Our conversations cover basic, translational and clinical sciences to provide a unique forum to accelerate the field of heart recovery,” said Josef Stehlik, M.D., M.P.H, medical director of the Heart Transplant Program at U of U Health. 

During the meeting, Stavros Drakos, M.D., Ph.D., FACC, medical director of the Cardiac Mechanical Support Program at U of U Health, will present the results of RESTAGE, a multi-center ground-breaking clinical trial aimed at recovering hearts experiencing severe failure. The study is based on 40 heart failure patients who have characteristics that predispose their hearts to recovery. Half of the patients in the trial experienced a level of recovery that allowed the removal of their cardiac-assist devices without any further heart failure symptoms.

“We will share results from RESTAGE that show that a number of patients have recovered from heart failure, as well as mechanistic insights as to how this recovery happens,” Drakos said. “This is important because we want to reduce the use of heart-assist devices and invasive procedures by fixing hearts with less invasive medications.”

During the meeting, participants will also discuss recent results from fibrosis and genetic studies. Patients experiencing heart failure develop interstitial fibrosis, the scar tissue that forms between heart tissue. The U of U Health cardiac team will discuss results from a study that reversed this scar tissue in a subset of patients after treatment with mechanical heart assist pumps. In addition, the participants will hear the results of recent gene expression studies on heart tissue to explore the genetic changes that provide some hearts the ability to recover. 

This conference has been described as a “think tank” where national leaders convene for the two-day event aimed at advancing the field of heart recovery. This conference benefits from the unique perspective of contributing presenters and attendees, including hundreds of cardiologists, surgeons, radiologists, anesthesiologists, ER physicians, nurses, pharmacists and research scientists.

Symposium Highlights

Keynote Speaker on Thursday January 17, 2019:

Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., the Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, will discuss policy perspectives in health care, especially as it relates to heart recovery. He has dedicated his career to promoting the prevention and treatment of heart, lung and blood diseases and enhancing the health of all individuals. Gibbons has received several patents for innovations derived from his research in the fields of vascular biology and the pathogenesis of vascular diseases. He earned degrees from Harvard Medical School and Princeton University. He completed his residency and cariology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Gibbons has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences and a Pew Foundation Biomedical Scholar. He also has been selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Minority Faculty Development Awardee and recognized as an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association.

Keynote Speaker on Friday January 18, 2019:

Jeroen Bax, M.D., professor of Cardiology at University of Leiden, Netherlands, will discuss using cardiac imaging to find the best treatment for patients. Bax has focused his career on integrating different imaging techniques, like nuclear cardiology, echocardiography, multi-slice computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, to evaluate clinical issues. He serves as the associate editor of the European Heart Journal and is president of the European Society for Cardiology, the largest cardiovascular society worldwide.

This year’s symposium was organized by Selzman, Stehlik and Drakos at the U of U Health and Salt Lake VA Medical Center along with Abdallah Kfoury, M.D., at Intermountain Healthcare and U of U Health.

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A pioneer in treating advanced heart failure, U of U Health is a fitting site for the symposium. University researchers and physicians were the first to develop and implant an artificial heart for long-term use, and U of U Health continues to be at the forefront of cardiovascular and heart-failure research and care today. The National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association-supported research initiatives focus on uncovering genetic, metabolic and other contributors to heart disease and development of new heart failure therapies.

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