Searching for clues to congenital heart condition

Chin-Pin Chang, MD, PhDChing-Pin Chang MD, PhD, hopes to use stimulus funding to develop a treatment for children who are born with a common heart condition known as patent ductus arteriosus.

In the disease, a fetal arterial passageway that shunts blood away from the lungs to the heart fails to close after birth, when it's no longer needed. Infants then develop breathing problems and enlarged hearts; these infants may suffer infections and heart failure.

Chang has identified a molecular pathway that regulates the muscles involved in the arterial closure process. He will use his $354,000 in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to pursue this avenue of inquiry and gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that underlie this process, all with an eye to developing a way to treat the condition.

The funding enables Chang to continue to employ in his lab a postdoc who has been working with him on this problem for several years and whose funding was about to run out.