I am a cardiologist and myocyte biologist. My clinical focus is cardio-oncology (the cardiovascular care of cancer patients and cancer survivors). My basic and translational NIH-funded laboratory addresses myocardial responses to various stresses including hypoxia, aging and toxins. Over the last several years, given my clinical interest in cardio-oncology, my laboratory focus has been in delineating the mechanistic underpinnings of cardiovascular toxicities from novel targeted cancer therapies. I believe because of the targeted nature of the toxicities, cardio-oncology can provide insights into novel signaling pathways that are relevant in human cardiovascular biology and pathology. I have maintained a well-funded research program over the last decade. As of October 2023, I have 3 R01 NIH grants where I am a PI or MPI and 4 other NIH R01 grants where I am a co-investigator.
At University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), I am the William Grossman Distinguished Professor of Cardiology, Professor in Residence and Founding Chief of a new section focused on Cardio-Oncology and Immunology. I work closely with cardiologists and oncologists, basic and translational researchers, and clinicians, locally, nationally, and internationally. I have multiple collaborations with industry and regulatory bodies (including the US FDA). In 2019, I was named the first chair of the American Heart Association (AHA) cardio-oncology subcommittee. At Vanderbilt and UCSF, I established a Graduate Medical Education (GME) approved fellowship training the next generation of physician-scientists in the field of cardio-oncology. I am an elected member of American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI).
Since 2016, a major focus of my clinical and research program has been the interaction between the cardiovascular and immune systems. Our group initially described a novel clinical syndrome of fulminant myocarditis that arises from (ICI) immune checkpoint inhibitors (Johnson et al, NEJM, 2016). We further defined the clinical characteristics of ICI-associated myocarditis (Moslehi et al, Lancet, 2018) and showed that cardiovascular sequelae of ICI include pericarditis, vasculitis, and arrhythmias (Salem et al, Lancet Oncology, 2018). My laboratory has generated mouse models that recapitulate these novel syndromes providing novel insights into mechanisms of disease (Wei et al, Cancer Discovery, 2021. Yang et al, STM. 2022. Axelrod et al, Nature. 2022). Using these models, we have developed novel therapeutics by targeting immunology nodes and these have proven effective in patients with ICI-myocarditis (Salem et al, NEJM, 2019. Salem et al, Cancer Discovery, 2023).