CVRI In the News

Pitt Lab Scn2A Mutation Mouse Model Linked to Autism was Featured in Spectrum

The Geoffrey Pitt laboratory's research on mice bearing a mutation in the Scn2a voltage gated sodium channel was highlighted in Spectrum last August 27th.

The Spectrum article titled 'Model Mice Hint at sodium channel Gene’s Contribution to Autism’ reveals that mice with mutated Scn2a gene take more risk than regular mice, according to the Pitt Lab experiments, reported in a JCI-Insight article. Mice with a mutated Scn2a gene have also low sodium channel levels, which changes behavior to a riskier one.  Mice with the mutant Scn2a allele spent more time exploring an elevated plus sign shaped maze with two open arms without any anxiety--in contrast to peer mice without the altered Scns1 gene.

“We’re in the position of really connecting a simple mutation, or at least a defect in the channel to the behavior,” said Weill Cornell Medicine Professor Geoffrey Pitt.

The results earned compliments from University of California Neurology Professor Kevin Bender who assured the Pitt Lab “behavioral results were actually some of the most robust that I’ve seen in this field to date”. The work was led by Assistant Professor Honggang Wang and was done in collaboration with Anjali Rajadhyaksha lab, also at Weill Cornell Medicine.  Read the complete article.

Dr. James Lo Awarded a NIDDK/NIH Grant to Study Hyperglycemia in COVID-19 Patients

The Lo Lab was awarded a supplemental R01 award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institute of Health (NIDDK/NIH) to study the mechanism of hyperglycemia in COVID-19 patients. 

While caring for critically ill COVID-19 patients, Dr. Lo was struck by new onset diabetes and suspected that β cell failure may be the cause. Building on his lab’s research interests and expertise, he has proposed a series of experiments with specimens from COVID-19 patients to test his hypothesis and potentially provide new insight into disease mechanisms in COVID-19.

Sierra Duca Wins the T32 Training Grant in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology

Sierra Duca, a graduate student at our CVRI Jingli Cao Laboratory, was selected as a pre-doctoral trainee on the T32 Training Grant in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology. Sierra’s T32 is in effect starting July 1st for two years.

Congratulations Sierra!

CVRI Labs Awarded the Chang Zuckerberg Initiative to Study Heart Inflammation in Fish and Mice

Photo: Coronary vessels of an adult zebrafish heart shown in green. Courtesy of the Cao Lab 
April 29, 2020

Weill Cornell Medicine Cardiovascular Research Institute Laboratories of James Lo, M.D., Ph.D. and Jingli Cao, Ph.D., along with colleague Doron Betel, Ph.D.,  are among the Awardees for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Support Inflammation Research. The CZI supports researchers to study how inflammation influences disease in cells and tissues. See CZI Award Press Release 

The CVRI laboratories will determine how the inflammatory response to heart injury, such as a heart attack, differs between fish and mammals. Their proposal ‘Understanding Organism-Wide Inflammation After Heart Injury’ was highlighted in the CZI Winners Announcement.

The CZI was founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, in 2015. This year, the CZI is funding to 29 inter-disciplinary teams, a total of $14 million, with grants up to $175,000 each.

Congratulations to Drs. James Lo and Jingli Cao!

Dr. Aravind Gade Wins the 2020 SADS Foundation Young Investigator Award

Dr. Aravind Gade 2020 Basic Science winner of the 13th Annual Courts K. Cleveland SADS Foundation Young Investigator Awards in Cardiac Channelopathies.

Dr. Gade was honored on May 8th, at 2:20 p.m., during an online live Facebook ceremony, led by the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SADS) Foundation.  

Dr. Gade is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Pitt Lab.  

Congratulations Dr. Gade!

Pitt Lab A. Gade's Manuscript Accepted at the Journal of General Physiology

Congratulations to Pitt Lab member Aravind Gade, Ph.D., on acceptance his manuscript: “An interaction between the III-IV linker and CTD in NaV1.5 confers regulation of inactivation by CaM and FHF" in the Journal of General Physiology.

Pitt Lab Alumni Selected Cardiovascular Fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital

Congratulations to former Pitt lab MD-PhD student Eric Qian Wei, who matched at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston) for Cardiovascular Medicine fellowship!

CVRI Lo Lab Discovered that Protein Adipsin Helps Diabetes Type 2 Treatment

Dr. James Lo’s laboratory recently discovered that the adipose-secreted protein adipsin protects pancreatic beta cells from destruction in type 2 diabetes. The study, published in Nature Medicine on November 7th showed that an increase in adipsin levels resulted in a long-term positive effect on diabetes treatment, preventing beta cell death.

“Some of the currently available medications that target beta cells have side effects, such as lowering blood glucose levels too much. In addition, there are no proven treatments to prevent beta cell loss. People with type 2 diabetes whose beta cells don’t work properly have to inject insulin to keep their blood glucose levels stable,” said senior author James Lo, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, in a WCM News Release, published on November 8th.

About 30 million Americans suffer of diabetes, 95% of which have the type 2 form. 

As part of the study, Dr. Lo and his collaborators showed that people with higher levels of adipsin in the blood had a lower incidence of developing diabetes in the future 

Congratulations to the Lo laboratory!

Sinden's Manuscript to be published in FASEB Journal

CVRI congratulates Daniel Sinden on acceptance of his manuscript: “Knockout of the X-linked Fgf13 in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus impairs sympathetic output to brown fat and causes obesity” in FASEB Journal. Sinden's manuscript will be published in August 2019. 

Daniel Sinden, M.D., Ph.D., to Start his Residency at Massachusetts General Hospital

Daniel Sinden, former visiting M.D, Ph.D student in the Pitt Laboratory, graduated from the Duke Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), last May 2019. Daniel’s thesis focused on Fibroblast Growth Factor 13 Regulation of Thermogenesis and Metabolism. Daniel is now moving to Boston to start his Internal Medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. Congratulations Dr. Sinden!


Yasin Hussain, M.D., Won Second Place Prize for the David E. Rogers Memorial Research

Congratulations to Yasin Hussain, M.D., who received second place prize for the David E. Rogers Memorial Research Award. Dr. Hussain was awarded this honor for his research during his medical residency at NewYork-Presbyterian/ Weill Cornell Medicine on the contribution of Cav1.2 Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels to Calcific Aortic Stenosis. Dr. Hussain was mentored by Pitt Lab Post-Doctoral Associate Dr. Maiko Matsui.

Chike Cao, Ph.D., Received a Third Percentile Ranking on her NIH R21 Grant Application

Congratulations to Chike Cao, Ph.D. for receiving a 3%ile Ranking on her NIH R21 Grant Application titled “Regulation of tendon formation by Ca2+ signaling through CaV1.2 L-type voltage-gated calcium channel”.

Chike Cao, Ph.D., published manuscript that provides insight into potential pathological mechanisms underlying perturbed OPG expression and otosclerosis

Pitt Lab Instructor of Medicine Chike Cao, Ph.D., recently published a manuscript “The CaV1.2 L-type calcium channel regulates bone homeostasis in the middle and inner ear.” The discovery was made after Dr. Cao and her team drove expression of a gain-of-function CaV1.2 mutant channel to target osteochondral/osteoblast progenitors in the auditory ossicles and the oticcapsule.  The mutant mice displayed osteopetrosis of these bones, findings similar to phenotypes seen in mice with an osteoclast defect. The mice displayed hearing loss and defects of body balance in behavior tests, confirming that the CaV1.2-dependent Ca2+ influx affects bone structure in the ear and vestibular functions. These data provide insight into potential pathological mechanisms under-lying perturbed OPG expression and otosclerosis.

Congratulations Dr. Cao!

The Pitt Lab to Welcome Two Awarded Weill Cornell Medical Students During the Summer

The Pitt Lab is pleased to announce that it will welcome two Weill Cornell University medical students during the summer of 2019.

Neil Kelly, Ph.D., was awarded the Glorney-Raisbeck Medical Student Grant in Cardiovascular Disease Research to work in Dr. Geoffrey Pitt’s laboratory; and Radhika Ghosalkar was granted the Atkins Scholarship for summer research to work at the same laboratory. 

Both Neil and Radhika, are first year medical students at Weill Cornell Medical College with an interest in cardiology research.

The Pitt Lab team looks forward to working with Neil and Radhika, and congratulates them for the well-deserved awards.


Jingli Cao, Ph.D., to Join Our CVRI Faculty

The CVRI is pleased to announce that Jingli Cao, Ph.D. will join the CVRI faculty on October 1, 2018.

Dr. Cao’s laboratory will focus on cardiac regeneration, and build upon his paradigm-changing work performed while a postdoctoral fellow in lab of Ken Poss at Duke University. Using the zebrafish model, Dr. Cao developed a powerful explant system and showed that the epicardium is critical in the cardiac regeneration process.

He recently received a prestigious American Heart Association Career Development Award to support his pioneering research in the CVRI. Before joining the Poss lab, Dr. Cao received his PhD from the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. Dr. Cao’s primary appointment will be in the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Pitt Lab Discovers a Gene Mutation That May Lead to a New Osteoporosis Treatment

Chike Cao, Ph.D., a member of the Pitt Laboratory, determined that a gene mutation that affects a voltage-gated Ca2+ channel protein, can increase bone density. In her recent study published in JCI Insight, Cao reveals that expressing the mutant channel increases the normal production of bone-making cells. The discovery opens up the possibility to design new drugs to prevent or reverse osteoporosis

Dr. Geoffrey Pitt Leads Institute Designed to Translate Research Discoveries in Cardiovascular Disease from Bench to Bedside

Originally published in Weill Cornell Medicine Newsroom

NEW YORK (April 29, 2016) — With the goal of improving heart health for patients worldwide, Weill Cornell Medicine has established the Cardiovascular Research Institute to expand and enhance the institution's basic and translational research activities. Dr. Geoffrey Pitt, a leading cardiologist and scientist, will direct the institute, which will be dedicated to understanding the molecular, cellular and genetic underpinnings of the disease.

Headquartered in the Belfer Research Building, the interdisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Institute will build upon the successes of Weill Cornell Medicine's already robust cardiovascular research activities while unifying them under one research entity. Dr. Pitt will recruit a team of leading scientists to the institute to pursue innovative research that improves treatments and therapies for conditions including coronary artery disease, heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias, and hypertension. Read More

Maiko Matsui, Ph.D., Awarded with the Prestigious American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship

New York, June 20, 2017

 Dr. Maiko Matsui, Postdoctoral Associate at the Weill Cornell Medicine’s Pitt Laboratory, was awarded with the prestigious American Heart Association (AHA) Postdoctoral Fellowship Award with the project “Investigating the Contribution of L-Type Calcium Channel Ca V 1.2 in Calcific Aortic Valve Stenosis.”

 Geoffrey Pitt, M.D., Ph.D., Primary Investigator at the Pitt Lab and Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) Director at WCM, is Dr. Matsui’s mentor during her two-year fellowship, which kicks off on July 1st.

 The newly funded award seeks to empower postdoctoral trainees in cardiovascular and stroke research. 

 Congratulations Dr. Matsui!

Weill Cornell Medicine Cardiovascular Research Institute 413 East 69th Street, Belfer Research Building, 5th Floor, New York, NY New York, NY 10021 Phone: 646-962-8429