NYITCOM's Martin Gerdes Honored for Contributions to Heart Disease Research

July 26, 2017

Martin Gerdes, Ph.D., chair of the Biomedical Sciences department at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM), has received the prestigious Hans Peter Krayenbuehl Memorial Award from the International Academy of Cardiology for his contributions to the field of cardiac function. Presented to Gerdes at the 22nd World Congress on Heart Disease in Vancouver earlier this month, the award recognizes his longtime dedication to structural remodeling of the heart related to function. He joins the ranks of other impressive recipients of this award including Harold Swan, the inventor of the Swan-Gantz catheter and Ed Sonnenblick, the cardiologist who provided fundamental understanding of the sarcomere. 

In his early career, Gerdes defined how contracting heart muscle cells remodel in virtually every condition including growth, development, aging, sex, hypertension, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, ischemic heart disease, and idiopathic cardiomyopathy. Most importantly, he discovered that chamber dilatation (the enlargement of the heart’s chambers as heart muscle dilates) associated with heart failure is due to excessive lengthening of heart muscle cells, rather than slippage of these cells past one another, as previously believed. Gerdes’ work has also uncovered an important role for thyroid hormones in heart disease, suggesting that restoration of normal hormone balance in the heart has great potential in the treatment of heart diseases affecting humans.

“I studied cardiac remodeling long before it became popular and this led me to uncover a critical relationship between thyroid hormones and heart function. I’m honored that the International Academy of Cardiology has recognized these contributions,” said Gerdes. “We, the scientific community, have much to learn about this relationship, but the findings of this research could provide life-saving clues for many heart disease patients. While we’ve successfully shown that thyroid treatment has beneficial effects on various animal heart failure models, we remain committed to researching a serum biomarker that tracks low cardiac thyroid levels. Such a discovery could help determine the existence of hypothyroidism inside the heart and identify those who should benefit from thyroid hormone treatment.”

“Martin Gerdes has admirably dedicated his career to biomedical research that stands to improve the lives of many patients living with heart disease,” said Wolfgang Gilliar, D.O., dean, NYITCOM. “On behalf of NYITCOM, I am proud to congratulate him on receiving this exemplary award.”

For more information about NYITCOM, visit nyit.edu/medicine.

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