Rong Tian, MD, PhD
Photo: Rong Tian



Elected 2008
Dr. Tian’s research interest is to understand the mechanisms regulating cardiac energy metabolism under pathological conditions. Her laboratory utilizes multi-nuclei NMR spectroscopy to interrogate metabolic fluxes and myocardial energetics in animal models. Her current studies concentrate on the regulation of substrate metabolism by combining the powerful NMR technique with her ability to target the molecular regulatory mechanisms via the development of transgenic mice. Furthermore, she is interested in bi-directional translational research between the bench and the bedside for elucidating the functional significance of altered energy metabolism in ischemic heart disease, diabetes and heart failure. In her effort to elucidate the significance of glucose utilization in the heart, employing animals lacking cardiac GLUT4 or overexpressing GLUT1, she demonstrated that mice with increased glucose transport and utilization in the heart had increased tolerance to chronic pressure overload. This study is regarded as a seminal observation showing that manipulating substrate selection by the cardiomyocyte has the potential of being a new treatment strategy for cardiac hypertrophy and failure. Another area where Dr. Tian’s contribution has led to a new research focus is the role of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a cellular energy sensor and a metabolic master regulator, in the heart. She was the first to demonstrate that AMPK acted to remodel cardiac energy metabolism in chronically stressed hearts and, thus suggesting AMPK as a signaling intermediary linking myocardial energetics to metabolism in heart failure.