Electronic pacing to help correct heart problem has been the state-of-the-art therapy for the past 50 years. But science might still be able to do better, says Michael R. Rosen, the next speaker in the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute Distinguished Public Lecture Series. The talk will take place from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke, Virginia.

Rosen, the Gustavus A. Pfeiffer Professor of Pharmacology and professor of pediatrics at Columbia University, will speak about how electronic pacing has expanded beyond the heart, as well as possible biological alternatives to the traditional electronic approach.

“Electronic pacing still represents an invasive technology necessitating the implantation of hardware and has various attendant shortcomings,” said Rosen, who is also an adjunct professor of physiology and biophysics at Stony Brook University. “This has led to the search for a biological alternative that might restore normal rhythm to the hear by manipulating or augmenting the function of endogenous cardiac cells.”

Rosen will discuss the promise, progress, and pitfalls of the biological approaches explored and developed over the past 15 years to correct cardiac conduction. In his own research, Rosen uses gene and stem therapy to create artificial structures to replace the malfunctioning conducting system of the heart.

He has had continuous National Institutes of Health funding for more than 35 years. Rosen was also the recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Heart Rhythm Society, as well as the American Heart Association’s Merit Award, Chairman's award and Distinguished Achievement Award (Basic Science).

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