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Prominent cardiac researcher, Charles Antzelevitch, PhD, joins Lankenau Institute for Medical Research and Lankenau Heart Institute

Lankenau Medical Center July 22, 2015 Research News

Renowned arrhythmia expert will spearhead research aimed at delivering promising new treatments for life-threatening cardiac disease

(Wynnewood, Pa.) – Main Line Health has named Charles Antzelevitch, PhD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS, executive director of the Cardiovascular Research Program at Lankenau Institute for Medical Research and Director of Research at Lankenau Heart Institute. Dr. Antzelevitch is an internationally recognized expert in cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmia syndromes. In his new role at Main Line Health, he will assemble a cardiovascular research team of clinical investigators and basic scientists to advance understanding of the underlying mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias and to translate these discoveries into novel approaches to therapy.

“Our research focus will range from atrial fibrillation, the most common arrhythmic condition encountered clinically, to inherited cardiac arrhythmia syndromes, which are the most deadly,” said Dr. Antzelevitch. “Our team will be working to develop safe and effective drug treatments for arrhythmias, as well as studying the genetic basis of inherited syndromes to design appropriate therapies for affected families.”

In welcoming Dr. Antzelevitch, George Prendergast, PhD, president of Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, expressed excitement about the expanding possibilities in cardiovascular research at Main Line Health, a sentiment echoed by Peter Kowey, MD, chief of cardiovascular disease at Lankenau Heart Institute: “Dr. Prendergast and I are gratified that Dr. Antzelevitch has accepted our invitation to join Main Line Health. His team will be working to address one of the greatest unmet medical needs facing our society.”

Dr. Antzelevitch joins Main Line Health after more than 31 years as executive director, director of research, and Gordon K. Moe Scholar (endowed chair in experimental cardiology) at the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory in Utica, N.Y. He also holds an academic appointment as Professor of Pharmacology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y.

Since the start of his scientific career, Dr. Antzelevitch has been awarded more than $24 million in research grants. Together with his research colleagues, Dr. Antzelevitch’s achievements include:

  • Discovered and characterized the physiological basis for how life-threatening arrhythmias begin.
  • Discovered a new cell type within the heart, named the M cell, and showed how this cell contributes to the development of deadly arrhythmias in a number of cardiac pathologies.
  • Demonstrated how electrical currents vary in different parts of the heart, thus providing an understanding of how the various waves in the electrocardiogram are generated in both health and disease and how drugs can act to correct arrhythmia problems.
  • Helped define the genetic basis and cellular mechanisms for specific kinds of heart beat aberrations—long or short QT syndromes, Brugada syndrome and other syndromes capable of causing life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias—thus providing clinical insights into how to better diagnose and treat patients prone to sudden cardiac death. These studies also provided valuable guidance for the development of safer and more effective drugs.

Dr. Antzelevitch’s contributions to the scientific literature on cardiac arrhythmias include nearly 500 original articles and book chapters and six edited reference texts. His achievements have been widely recognized, with professional honors including the Distinguished Scientist Award of the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology (now the Heart Rhythm Society), Excellence in Cardiovascular Science Award of the Northeast Affiliate of the American Heart Association, Carl J. Wiggers Award of the American Physiological Society, and Distinguished Scientist Award of the American College of Cardiology. From 1996 to 1998, Dr. Antzelevitch served as President of the International Cardiac Electrophysiology Society. He currently serves as Secretary/Treasurer of the Society and was recently awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the Society in recognition of his many contributions.

About Main Line Health

Founded in 1985, Main Line Health is a not-for-profit health system serving Philadelphia and its western suburbs. Main Line Health's commitment—to deliver advanced medicine for treating and curing disease, playing an important role in prevention and disease management as well as training physicians and other health care providers—reflects our intent to be the region's premier choice for clinical care, research, and education. A team of more than 10,000 employees, 3,000 nurses and 2,000 physicians care for patients throughout the Main Line Health System.

At Main Line Health's core are four of the region's most respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—as well as one of the nation's premier facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital.

Main Line Health also includes Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice, which includes skilled home health care, hospice and home infusion services; Main Line Health Centers, primary and specialty care, lab and radiology, and other outpatient services located in Broomall, Collegeville, Concordville, Exton, King of Prussia and Newtown Square; Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a biomedical research organization; and Main Line HealthCare, one of the region's largest multispecialty physician networks.

Main Line Health is the recipient of numerous awards for quality care, and service, including U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, System Magnet® designation; the nation's highest distinction for nursing excellence and the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence (MAAPE) Excellence Award. Main Line Health is committed to creating an environment of diversity, respect, equity, and inclusion, has proudly received awards in this area and has embraced the American Hospital Association's #123forEquity Pledge to Act to eliminate disparities in care. We are dedicated to advancing patient-centered care, education, and research to help patients stay healthy and live their best lives.

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