Sanda Despa, PhD
- Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences Primary Faculty
- Nutritional Sciences Graduate Faculty
Research in the Despa lab focuses on the mechanisms underlying the electrical and structural remodeling of the heart in various forms of heart disease and their role in exacerbating myocardial dysfunction. Specifically, we utilize transgenic animal models and human cardiac tissue to investigate i) how type-2 diabetes increases the risk for developing heart failure, ii) the long-term consequences of gestational diabetes on the maternal and offspring heart, iii) how single-point mutations in some proteins create proper conditions for an “electrical storm” that culminate in cardiac arrest, and iv) the link between heart failure and neurodegenerative diseases. Ultimately, our goal is to identify novel therapeutic targets that are tailored to the specific etiology of the underlying heart disease. Our work spans from the molecular and cellular levels to characterization of heart function in isolated hearts and live animals using fluorescence microscopy, electrophysiology, echocardiography, cell biology and biochemistry techniques.