Winter 2019

Boosting Heart Health

The 20-year-old Molecular Cardiology Research Institute boasts several scientific breakthroughs.

By Courtney Hollands

The Molecular Cardiology Research Institute (MCRI) at Tufts Medical Center—established in 1998 to advance understanding of cardiovascular diseases, identify new clinical strategies, and train the next generation of cardiovascular scientists—just celebrated its twentieth anniversary. “It’s a very exciting time,” said executive director Iris Jaffe, also the Elisa Kent Mendelsohn Professor of Molecular Cardiology at the School of Medicine. “Our goal has always been to understand fundamental mechanisms of heart and vascular function and disease, and then translate that into advances in patient care—with twenty years of progress, that’s what we’re doing now.” Take a spin through just a few of the center’s scientific breakthroughs through the years.

1998
MCRI investigators discovered that the heart and blood vessels have molecular receptors needed to respond to estrogen, pioneering the field of estrogen action on the cardiovascular system and leading to safer, more effective hormone therapies for women.

2003-present
MCRI researchers have made substantial contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms leading to heart failure, the leading cause of hospitalization, and identified multiple new drug targets now in development.

2018
MCRI investigators uncovered that female and
male blood vessels respond differently to risk factors including obesity, high blood sugar, or high cholesterol. How blood vessels respond contributes to the development of heart attacks and strokes— suggesting that treatments to prevent the effects of the obesity epidemic may need to be personalized.

Up next
Preclinical MCRI studies showed that when a blocked artery is causing a heart attack, implanting a pump while delaying opening the artery reduces heart attack size. A recent clinical trial demonstrated this to be safe in humans and paves the way for a randomized trial to determine if this discovery could fundamentally change the way heart attacks are treated.

Top Stories

Antimicrobial Resistance Fighters

A new Tufts center is cracking down on one of the biggest global health concerns.

Amplifying Tufts’ Impact

By fostering collaborations, Tufts CTSI brings scientific discoveries to the clinic and beyond.

The Music Man

For over three decades, the biggest country stars—Johnny Cash, Larry Gatlin, Wynonna Judd, and Mandy Moore—have trusted one team with their most previous instruments: Robert Ossoff and the Vanderbilt Voice Center.

Snapchat Depression

Why has the rate of teenage depression and anxiety doubled in a generation? A School of Medicine psychiatry professor says the answer is in our pockets.

Editor's Picks

Outsmarting Cholera

A cellular process identified by Tufts scientists could combat a half-century pandemic.

Do Immigrants Drain the U.S. Health-Care System?

A new study from Lila Flavin, M19, uncovers a surprising answer.

Getting in Tune

Like jazz, doctor-patient relationships require a healthy dose of improvisation.

A New Leader at Tufts Medical Center

Michael Apkon has big plans for the Boston institution.