Utah Cardiac Recovery Program – UCAR

Original work in the field of myocardial recovery generated by our lab led to the founding and establishment of the award winning Utah Cardiac Recovery Program – UCAR. To investigate the mechanisms implicated in myocardial recovery our lab is following a “bedside to bench and back” approach using human myocardial tissue findings from cardiac recovery patients to guide our basic science investigations which include knockout, inhibition or overexpression strategies in vitro and in vivo (small and large animal models). With this approach we identified (a) MCT4 inhibition, (b) VDAC2 activation, (c) the glucose accessory pathways (pentose-phosphate and 1-carbon metabolism) and (d) RUNX1 inhibition as novel therapeutic targets for myocardial recovery in chronic heart failure.

Simultaneously, we published structure-function studies focused on the impact of mechanical unloading on reverse remodeling and myocardial recovery that are bringing our scientific progress in myocardial recovery from bench to bedside. Along these lines the UCAR program was a leader in the bridge-to-recovery multicenter study RESTAGE-HF which is considered widely as a turning point for the myocardial recovery field. UCAR was supported over the years by extramural funding through the NIH, AHA, Dpt of Veterans Affairs, European Union, Doris Duke Foundation, Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation, Intermountain Research Medical Foundation and others.

Dr. Drakos co-chaired the NHLBI Working Group on Myocardial Recovery – its members list and executive summary can be found at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/events/2016/nhlbi-working-group-advancing-science-myocardial-recovery-mechanical-circulatory. The white paper was simultaneously published at flagship journals of associated biomedical societies: J Am Coll Cardiol: Basic Transl Sci, J Card Fail, ASAIO J, J Thor Cardiovasc Surg (PMID28736756). To facilitate progress in the field of myocardial recovery we have been co-organizing for the last 12 years the annual international Utah Cardiac Recovery Symposium (UCARS - http://medicine.utah.edu/cardiacrecoverysymposium/) which features original clinical, translational and basic science research.

Dr Drakos has a strong commitment to mentoring the next generation of scientists and physician-scientists. In 2021, he was presented the inaugural Guy Zimmerman Faculty Mentorship Award, University of Utah School of Medicine and in 2017 he was the sole recipient of the Department of Medicine Faculty Mentorship Award. More than 70 publications were authored by trainees or junior faculty under his mentorship and many of them were supported by competitive career development training grants. Nine of his mentees have moved on to independent faculty positions with >50% research time. Since 2017, he has been the PI of the NHLBI Cardiovascular T32 grant and previously he had served for several years on the executive committee of this grant. He also served as the Director and PI of an American Heart Association-funded Institutional Undergraduate Student Research Fellowship Program for performing cardiovascular research at the U of Utah.

  • School of Medicine
  • University of Utah