Mount Sinai School of Medicine Awarded $4.7 Million Grant to Study Congenital Heart Disease in Children

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute awards Mount Sinai School of Medicine a $4.7 million grant to investigate the genetic cause of heart problems in children.

New York, NY
 – October 27, 2009 /Press Release/  –– 

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has awarded $4.7 million to Mount Sinai School of Medicine to support a study on the genetic causes of secundum atrial septal defects (ASDs), a condition in which the wall separating the upper chambers of the heart does not close completely prior to birth.

The overall goal of the five institutions is to get to the bottom of the genetic causes of heart problems in children, says Dr. Bruce Gelb, principal investigator for the study and Director of the Center for Molecular Cardiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "We want to identify ASD genes, which may lead to better treatment of the condition, or it may establish genetic connections between ASD and other birth defects, identifying new syndromes."

Existing research has already identified a few genes that, when mutated, can cause ASD which suggests that single gene mutation can cause the condition, said Dr. Gelb, "so we already have a foot in the door."  

About 35,000 children a year are born with congenital heart disease, making it one of the most common and life-threatening problems for newborns in the United States. About seven percent of babies born with congenital heart disease have ASDs. Children and teens with ASD usually have no symptoms. However, if left untreated adults with ASD are at greater risk for pulmonary hypertension, arrhythmias, heart failure, and stroke. 

If the defect is large, it can either be repaired surgically or through cardiac catheterization, where a catheter is used to guide a closure device through a blood vessel, into the heart and across the ASD. In rare cases after surgery, the electrical system that controls a patient’s heartbeat will break down, potentially causing sudden death.

Funds will be distributed through the Pediatric Cardiac Genomics Consortium (PCGC), part of the NHLBI’s $100 million pediatric research program called "From Bench to Bassinet," which is designed to encourage translation of results from basic science to clinical research, and to provide clinical input on pressing needs for basic research. Mount Sinai School of Medicine was one of only five institutions accepted to the PCGC.

These research efforts will offer new insights into how the human cardiovascular system develops and help speed the transition of promising laboratory discoveries into treatments that can save young lives, said Elizabeth G. Nabel, Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The other institutions in the PCGC are Children’s Hospital Boston of Harvard Medical School, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Columbia School of Medicine, and Yale School of Medicine. 

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center
The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Mount Sinai Hospital is one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. Founded in 1852, Mount Sinai today is a 1,171-bed tertiary-care teaching facility that is internationally acclaimed for excellence in clinical care. Last year, nearly 50,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients, and there were nearly 450,000 outpatient visits to the Medical Center.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine is internationally recognized as a leader in groundbreaking clinical and basic-science research, as well as having an innovative approach to medical education. With a faculty of more than 3,400 in 38 clinical and basic science departments and centers, Mount Sinai ranks among the top 20 medical schools in receipt of National Institute of Health (NIH) grants.