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American Family Children's Hospital

UW Health Physician Receives Grant to Research Childhood Heart Condition

UW Health Pediatric Cardiologist Carter RalpheMADISON - Carter Ralphe, MD, a pediatric cardiologist at American Family Children's Hospital, has been awarded a $50,000 grant to study one of the leading causes of cardiac death in teens.


The Children's Cardiomyopathy Foundation (CCF) awarded the money to Ralphe to research the causes of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition caused by abnormal thickening of the heart muscle resulting in cardiac arrest in younger people.

"I am thrilled to have been awarded this grant from CCF," says Ralphe, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "They only award two grants per year, so this is quite an honor."

Ralphe says the money will be used to develop a three-dimensional cardiac tissue model to study mutations in a key protein that may be linked to severe forms of HCM as early as infancy. Symptoms may also occur in early childhood or adulthood. One in 500 people is born with the condition.

"We don't yet understand how defects in the same protein result in such a difference in severity or time of onset," he says. "Using our 3-D model system, we can look at exactly how the mutations affect the ability of the heart muscles to contract, and how environmental factors affect the development of hypertrophy."

"The information obtained from these studies will contribute to the body of work performed by many others, and together, we should develop better strategies for the prevention and treatment of HCM," he adds.

"Scientific excellence and relevance to primary forms of pediatric cardiomyopathy are the main criteria for selecting research projects to support," said CCF spokesperson Renee Thekkekara.


Date Published: 04/01/2010

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