Maxwell M. Wintrobe, M.D., former Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, initiated and developed the concept of a cardiovascular research institute at the University of Utah School of Medicine. In 1971 he recruited J. A. Abildskov, MD, a University of Utah graduate and distinguished cardiologist/researcher, as the first permanent Director of CVRTI. Under his able leadership the Institute became internationally recognized for its important contributions to the field of cardiac electrophysiology. Dr. Abildskov retired as director in 1994 and continues as an active CVRTI faculty member. Robert L. Lux, PhD, Professor of Internal Medicine, served as Director from 1994 to 1999. Kenneth W. Spitzer, PhD, Professor of Physiology was appointed Director in 2003.
Through the generous financial support of Nora Eccles Harrison, Richard A. Harrison and the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation the Institute expanded to its present 27,000 square feet.
The overall objective of CVRTI's research is to better understand how both normal and diseased hearts generate electrical signals and how these signals modulate contraction. Such knowledge provides a basis for more effective treatment of arrhythmias and other disease states that affect ion movements across heart cell membranes. Our multidisciplinary team of investigators includes physicians, bioengineers, physiologists, biochemists, and computational modelers who approach these goals from the molecular, cellular and whole heart levels. Thus, CVRTI provides a highly integrated approach to the study of cardiac electrophysiology and ion transport. CVRTI investigators conduct cutting edge research in the following specific areas:
- Structural and functional properties of ion channels
- Cellular electrophysiology
- Excitation-contraction coupling
- Regulation of intracellular pH and calcium
- Cardiac chromatin remodeling
- Tissue and organ level electrophysiology
- Computational modeling