8th Annual Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) Symposium

April 7, 2021 to April 8, 2021

Virtual Conference

April 7, 2021 - April 8, 2021

Welcome to the 8th Annual Symposium of the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) at Baylor College of Medicine. This year CVRI is honored to feature Dr. Alan Daugherty, Gill Foundation Chair of Preventative Cardiology and Director of the Saha Cardiovascular Research Center as the keynote lecturer. In addition, this year’s symposium program will feature a special panel session that will focus on the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on cardiovascular disease. Visit www.bcm.edu/cvri for more information.

Target Audience

Physicians, PhD faculty, residents, fellows, medical students, graduate school trainees, and other healthcare professionals.

    Educational Methods

    Lectures ▪ Question and Answer Sessions

    Activity Evaluation

    Evaluation by questionnaire will address program content, presentation, and possible bias.

    Needs Statement

    As medical research and technology change rapidly, it is increasingly important for physicians and healthcare professionals to stay informed of new evidence. Newly learned pathways can be used as potential mechanisms and alternative strategies in new research applications. In addition, topics on how to apply new diagnostic and imaging techniques can create opportunities for collaboration with the developers of these techniques in new research protocols. This symposium is designed as a platform to share and discuss state-of-the-art ongoing, innovative, and new cardiovascular research with the ultimate goal of translating research into clinical practice.

    Learning Objectives

    Global Objectives

    At the conclusion of the conference, participants should be able to:

    • Identify & understand the mechanisms underlying sex differences in stroke patients
    • Discuss the current state of knowledge regarding cardiogenic shock, the effects of weightlessness on the cardiovascular system, and the role of the intestinal microbiome in pediatric heart transplantation
    • Utilize genomics/genetic profiling to explain the pathogenesis and treatment of cardiomyopathies
    • Outline how a "precision medicine" approach can be used to optimize efficiency and therapeutic benefit for particular groups of patients

    Program-specific learning objectives include: 

    • Provide a description of the heterogeneity of several facets of the aorta that may account for the regional localization of aneurysms and dissections.
    • Understand the potential therapeutic value of tissue renewal in heart disease.
    • Understand the basic mechanisms of cardiomyocyte proliferation and important role of cardiomyocyte regeneration in cardiac function at both physiological and pathophysiologic conditions. 
    • Introduce the latest molecular pathway associated with the pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation.
    • Understand the immune response to a Chagas vaccine that results in a reduction in parasite burden in the heart and improves tissue integrity. 
    • Raise awareness of ongoing work to develop devices with added functionality to improve patient outcomes and appreciate ongoing efforts to develop a practical permanent heart replacement device.
    • Recognize the role of a transcriptome-led approach to identify the genetic etiology of thoracic aneurysm and dissection (TAAD). 
    • Report on the major barriers and social determinants for developing vaccines against pandemic threats and poverty related neglected diseases.
    • Understand the spectrum of acute cardiac injury in COVID-19 infection and proposed management strategies to minimize long term risk of disability.
    • Understand the different mechanisms for cardiac injury in COVID-19. 
    • Understand the need to evaluate cardiac damage due to COVID-19 and determine the ability to return to normal activity. 

    Additional Information

    PDF icon Schedule279.24 KB
    Course summary
    Available credit: 
    • 6.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
    • 6.25 Attendance
    Course opens: 
    Course expires: 
    Event starts: 
    04/07/2021 - 12:00pm CDT
    Event ends: 
    04/08/2021 - 4:00pm CDT

    View Program Schedule



    This activity is designed for healthcare professionals for educational purposes.  Information and opinions offered by the faculty/presenters represent their own viewpoints. Conclusions drawn by the participants should be derived from careful consideration of all available scientific information.

    While Baylor College of Medicine makes every effort to have accurate information presented, no warranty, expressed or implied, is offered. The participant should use his/her clinical judgment, knowledge, experience, and diagnostic decision-making before applying any information, whether provided here or by others, for any professional use.

    Faculty/presenters have submitted materials for this syllabus for printing in advance so that you may have an outline or summary of the main points of their presentation. Often this differs from the final version of their slides as faculty/ presenters make revisions up until the day of the meeting.

    Additionally, some images (cartoons, drawings and some photographs) shown on the screen may not be present in your educational materials because of publishers’ requirements for reprinting of copyrighted images.


    Faculty, topics, program schedule, and credit are subject to change.

    Audio or videotaping is prohibited without written permission from the Activity Directors and the Division of Continuing Professional Development, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.


    Houston, TX
    United States

    Conference offered virtually via Zoom.
    Connection information will be emailed to registrants the week of the conference. 

    William Cohn, MD
    Professor, Department of Surgery
    Baylor College of Medicine

    William E. Cohn, MD, is a Vice President at Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies (JJMDC) and the Executive Director for the Johnson & Johnson Center for Device Innovation at the Texas Medical Center. He is also a professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and an adjunct professor of Bioengineering at both Rice University and the University of Houston.

    Prior to joining JJMDC, Dr. Cohn was the director of the Cullen Cardiovascular Research Lab at the famed Texas Heart Institute and the Director of Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery at THI. A native of Houston, Dr. Cohn received his medical school education, general surgical training, and cardiothoracic surgical training at Baylor College of Medicine where he served as the last chief resident of the legendary heart surgeon Michael E. DeBakey. After graduation, Dr. Cohn spent eleven years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and as an Attending Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

    His major research interests include the development of new technology for decreasing the invasiveness of surgical procedures and development of the continuous-flow totally implantable artificial heart. In 2011, Dr. Cohn and Dr. O. H. Frazier successfully implanted the first pulseless total heart replacement device in a human patient.

    Dr. Cohn has a passion for medical device development and has more than 90 US patents granted or pending and another 60 international patents for his medical innovations. His numerous awards include an honorary doctorate in science from Oberlin College, the Distinguished Scientist Award, given by the MacDonald Fund, and the Edison Award for excellence in human-centered design and innovation for inventing the SentreHEART® Lariat® Suture Delivery Device. In 2000, Dr. Cohn was named the distinguished Inventor of the Year by the U.S. Intellectual Property Owners Association and in 2014, he was named Outstanding Inventor of the Year by the Houston IPO. In addition, in 2014 he received an award for the most Innovative Medical Device Startup of the year at the Innovations in Cardiovascular Interventions Conference in Tel Aviv for inventing the TVA everlinQ system for percutaneous creation of AV fistulas and for founding TVA Medical. In 2015, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for healthcare innovation by the Houston Technology Center. He is the Chief Medical Officer of BiVACOR Inc. and currently serves on the board of directors of CSI Inc., BiVACOR, and TVA Medical. Previously, he served on the boards of ArterX, PluroMed, Onyx Medical, and SentreHeart.


    Leslie Cooper, MD
    Professor of Medicine
    Chair, Cardiovascular Department
    Mayo Clinic in Florida
    Leslie T. Cooper, M.D., is a general cardiologist and the chair of the Mayo Clinic Enterprise Department of Cardiovascular Medicine as well as chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Florida. Dr. Cooper's clinical interests and research focus on clinical and translational studies of rare and undiagnosed cardiomyopathies, myocarditis, and inflammatory cardiac and vascular diseases such as giant cell myocarditis, cardiac sarcoidosis, eosinophilic myocarditis, and Takayasu's arteritis. He has published over 130 original peer-reviewed papers as well as contributing to, and editing books on myocarditis. In addition he has spent years working with clinicians and researchers around the world to further diagnosis, treatment, and care for myocarditis and cardiomyopathies. In addition to his clinical and research work Dr. Cooper is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, and the European Society of Cardiology Heart Failure Association, The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation and the Society for Vascular Medicine and Biology. He is also the founder and former president of the Myocarditis Foundation and continues to serve on their board of directors.


    Alan Daugherty, PhD, DSc, FAHA
    Gill Foundation Chair of Preventative Cardiology
    Director, Saha Cardiovascular Research Center
    Chair, Physiology
    Senior Associate Dean for Research
    University of Kentucky 

    Alan Daugherty was born in Liverpool, England.  He completed his undergraduate studies in Pharmacology at Sunderland Polytechnic, and received both a Ph.D. and a D.Sc. from the University of Bath.  He moved to Washington University in St. Louis for fellowship training on lipoprotein metabolism and atherosclerosis.  Subsequently, he was appointed to the faculty in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.  He continued his studies on mechanisms of lipoprotein modification and immune function on the development of atherosclerosis.  These studies also including imaging studies using chemical adducts for noninvasively detecting lipoprotein catabolism by a number of modalities.  In 1997, he moved to the University of Kentucky in Lexington where he is now the Senior Associate Dean for Research in the College of Medicine and Director of the Saha Cardiovascular Research Center.  Through the generosity of Linda and Jack Gill, he was also awarded the Gill Foundation Chair of Preventive Cardiology.  Within the strong collaborative environment for cardiovascular research at the University of Kentucky, he has participated in studies on the role of angiotensin peptides in the development of atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysms.  He is highly committed to the research, advocacy, and educational missions of the American Heart Association.  He is currently a charter member of the Atherosclerosis and Inflammatory Cardiovascular System NIH study section.  He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology (AVTB).


    Nisha Garg, PhD
    Professor, Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology
    Robert E. Shope, MD Distinguished Chair in Global Health
    Associate Director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity

    Dr. Nisha J Garg joined UTMB in 2000, and currently serves as the Professor in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology, Robert E. Shope, MD Distinguished Chair in Global Health, Associate Director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity. A world renowned expert in cardiomyopathy of infectious etiology, Dr. Garg serves on external review committees of NIH, American Heart Association, and other international funding agencies, editorial boards of numerous high-caliber scientific journals, including Am J Pathol, American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease and Infection and Immunity. She also served as Senior Scientific Advisor at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), engaged in implementation of Neglected Tropical Diseases Initiative of the US Government in Latin America.

    Dr. Garg has made substantial contributions as an investigator, educator, and mentor.  She has conducted pioneering research on understanding the pathogenesis of chagasic disease of the heart that afflict millions of people, and developing unique strategies for early diagnosis and prevention of cardiac disease.  In addition to her scientific achievements, Dr. Garg has an outstanding track record as a mentor, and works on initiatives to promote the careers of junior faculty in science. Dr. Garg’s research program has been consistently funded by extramural sources.  She has authored >120 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including the J Am Coll Cardiol, Mol Cell Proteomics, Am J Pathol, Plos Pathogens, Internatl J Cardiol, MBio, and J Immunol.


    Peter Hotez, MD, PhD
    Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine
    Professor, Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology
    Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics

    Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. is Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine where he is also the Co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics.  He is also University Professor at Baylor University, Fellow in Disease and Poverty at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy,  Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University, Faculty Fellow with the Hagler Institute for Advanced Studies at Texas A&M University, and Health Policy Scholar in the Baylor Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy.

    Dr. Hotez is an internationally-recognized physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development.  As head of the Texas Children’s CVD, he leads a team and product development partnership for developing new vaccines for hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis,  Chagas disease, and SARS/MERS/SARS-2 coronavirus, diseases affecting hundreds of millions of children and adults worldwide, while championing access to vaccines globally and in the United States.  In 2006 at the Clinton Global Initiative he co-founded the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to provide access to essential medicines for hundreds of millions of people.

    He obtained his undergraduate degree in molecular biophysics from Yale University in 1980 (phi beta kappa), followed by a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Rockefeller University in 1986, and an M.D. from Weil Cornell Medical College in 1987.  Dr. Hotez has authored more than 500 original papers and is the author of four single-author books.


    Na Li, PhD
    Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine- Cardiovascular Research
    Baylor College of Medicine

    Dr. Li has a broad background in cardiovascular science, with specific training and expertise in cardiovascular pharmacology and electrophysiology. The research interest in Dr. Li’s laboratory is to discover novel molecular mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias. The Li lab has published a number of quintessential papers establishing the role of inflammasome signaling in the pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation. Li lab is well-funded with a number of NIH grants and BCM CVRI pilot grant. Her lab routinely collaborates with international leading expects in the field of cardiac electrophysiology. Within Baylor, she is actively involved in teaching, participating in several didactic courses. She is the chair of CVRI Education and Training Committee and the course director of Term 4 Advanced Topics in Cardiac Physiology and Diseases.


    Douglas L. Mann, MD
    Lewin Chair and Professor of Medicine
    Professor, Cell Biology & Physiology
    John T. Milliken Department of Internal Medicine
    Washington University School of Medicine

    Dr. Mann is the Lewin Distinguished Professor in Cardiovascular Disease and Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology. He received his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia and completed fellowships in clinical cardiology at the University of California San Diego, and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He served as chief of cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine (2005-2009) and Washington University School of Medicine (2009-2019).

    Dr. Mann's primary research interest has been the molecular and cellular basis of heart failure, with particular emphasis on the role of innate immunity in disease progression and recovery of the failing heart. The author of numerous peer reviewed articles on the role on inflammatory mediators in cardiac remodeling and myocardial recovery, Dr. Mann is also the founding editor of Heart Failure, A Companion to Braunwald’s Heart Disease, and a co-editor of Braunwald’s Heart Disease, the leading textbook in cardiovascular medicine. Dr. Mann is currently the founding Editor-in-Chief for JACC: Basic to Translational Science, and is a member of the Editorial Board of Circulation, The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and JACC Heart Failure. Among his honors are the Michael E. DeBakey award for excellence in research, the Alfred Soffer Award for Editorial Excellence, the Distinguished Mentor Award from the American College of Cardiology, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Heart Failure Society of America. He is a member (elected) of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Association for the Advancement in Science, the Association of University Cardiologists, and the American Clinical and Climatological Association. He is the past president of the Heart Failure Society.   


    James Martin, MD, PhD
    Vivian L. Smith Chair in Regenerative Medicine
    Department of Molecular Physiology
    Baylor College of Medicine
    Director Cardiomyocyte Renewal Lab
    Texas Heart Institute

    Dr. Martin is an internationally recognized developmental and regenerative biologist who has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of development, disease, and regeneration. He has authored more than 140 peer-reviewed papers in top journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, Developmental Cell, Plos Genetics, Development, and PNAS. His recent groundbreaking work on the Hippo pathway in heart size regulation is a landmark study that led to the insight that the Hippo pathway is an inhibitor of adult heart muscle regeneration. Dr. Martin’s insights revealed new avenues for treatment of human heart failure. Dr. Martin has made fundamental insights into the role of the transcription factor Pitx2 in atrial fibrillation, the most common sustained arrhythmia in the human population. He made use of the mouse model to investigate Pitx2 in atrial homeostasis but also in left right asymmetric morphogenesis that is essential for human development. Dr. Martin’s studies investigating Pitx2 function in craniofacial development provided insight into the molecular basis of Rieger syndrome. He uncovered a pivotal function for Bmp signaling in endothelial-mesenchymal transition and cardiac valve development. Dr. Martin’s studies uncovered a novel role for canonical Wnt signaling in cardiac progenitor cell diversification. He found the first microRNA implicated in orofacial clefting. Dr. Martin’s studies are highly cited and also reported on by the lay media.


    David Murdock, MD, FACMG
    Assistant Professor, Molecular and Human Genetics
    Assistant Director - Clinical Lab
    Human Genome Sequencing Center
    Baylor College of Medicine

    Dr. David Murdock is board-certified in internal medicine, clinical genetics, and molecular genetics, focusing on the genetics of cardiovascular disease. He is the assistant director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center CAP/CLIA-certified Clinical Laboratory (HGSC-CL) at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), where he leads the interpretation teams for multiple efforts, including eMERGE, HeartCare, and All of Us. He also leads the sequencing interpretation team for the BCM Undiagnosed Diseases Network clinical site, where he develops analytical pipelines for exome, genome, and RNA sequencing analysis. Dr. Murdock has published extensively on genetic topics as well as sequencing technology applications in clinical practice. He is an active clinician evaluating and treating adult patients with various genetic conditions, with a particular interest in connective tissue disorders. He is a firm believer in the utility of genetic sequencing to improve health outcomes through early diagnosis, gene discovery, and understanding disease mechanisms.


    Sara Kristen Sexson Tejtel, MD, PhD, MPH
    Assistant Professor, Pediatrics
    Division of Pediatric Cardiology
    Texas Children's Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine

    Dr. Sara Kristen Sexon Tejtel is an Assistant Professor of Pediatric Cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital. Her interests lie in cardiac imaging including transthoracic, transesophageal, and fetal imaging, inpatient care and continuing care of children with acquired and congenital heart disease. My research interests have included the use of cardiac catheterization in the post heart transplant patient, evaluation of the Kawasaki Disease guidelines, and physician adherence to guidelines. I hope to expand my research endeavors, both at a local and a national level, to include preventive cardiology, quality improvement and outcomes of children with acquired and congenital heart disease.


    Peter Vanderslice, PhD
    Dierctor, Molecular Cardiology Research Laboratory (MCRL Biology)
    Texas Heart Institute

    Dr. Peter Vanderslice is the Director-Biology of the Molecular Cardiology Research Laboratory at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, Texas.  Dr. Vanderslice has spent over 25 years leading teams focused on the development of small molecule compounds that bind and modulate the function of integrins, selectins, and chemokine receptors.  He has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications, reviews, and book chapters focusing on the biological function and therapeutic targeting of cell adhesion molecules.  Much of his professional career has been in the pharmaceutical industry, where he gained extensive experience with each stage of the pipeline from discovery to progression into clinical trials.  As Senior Director of Drug Discovery at Encysive Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Vanderslice led teams developing therapeutics for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.   Three such programs resulted in compounds entering clinical trials.  He joined the Texas Heart Institute in 2008 and has continued to discover and characterize integrin-targeted small molecules as potential therapeutics. These include a family of integrin activators that function as immune stimulants, one of which entered Phase I clinical trials in October of 2020.  Dr. Vanderslice received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and trained as a Parker B. Francis postdoctoral fellow in the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco.


    Liang Xie, PhD
    Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine- Athero and Lipo
    Baylor College of Medicine

    Dr. Liang Xie is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He received his PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Rochester and went on to a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Cardiovascular Research at Duke University. Dr. Xie studies the basic biochemistry of protein prolyl hydroxylation and its important roles of in cardiac function. His particular focuses include the understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which Prolyl Hydroxylase​ Domain Proteins (PHDs) regulate calcium cycling and cardiac contractile function and how their dysregulation contributes to the pathophysiological development of heart diseases such as cardiac hypertrophy and arrhythmia.

    Baylor College of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

    Baylor College of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 6.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

    Available Credit

    • 6.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
    • 6.25 Attendance


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