Mission Statement

  • To develop a nationally and internationally recognized center of excellence in cardiovascular research and medicine.

  • To facilitate the training of young scientists, including postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, medical students and residents in cardiovascular research and medicine.

  • To encourage the development of basic science, translational, and clinical research with funding from federal agencies and industry.


News and Events

The Passing of Dr. Gerald Berenson

Original Story
Obituary: Gerald Sanders Berenson


Gerald S. Berenson, MD, Boyd Professor of Cardiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, passed away Thursday, November 22, 2018 while visiting family in Houston. He was 96 years old. Dr. Berenson was an internationally known physician-scientist whose work helped shaped our understanding of the causes of heart disease.

A native of Bogalusa, Dr. Berenson pioneered and led the Bogalusa Heart Study, one of the most significant studies of the development of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

“Dr. Gerald Berenson had an enormous and lasting impact on health," said Larry Hollier, MD, Chancellor of LSU Health New Orleans. “His pioneering Bogalusa Heart Study provided new information about how risk factors in children evolve as they age and the pathogenesis of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. What he learned from Bogalusa school children influenced the well-being of people the world over. We are proud that such a compassionate physician and accomplished research scientist was a member of the faculty of LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine at both the beginning and the end of his career. Dr. Berenson's contributions and international stature were recognized when he was named a Boyd Professor - the highest professorial rank awarded by LSU.”

One of the principal findings of the Bogalusa Heart Study changed our understanding about the onset of adult heart disease. A primary finding of the study is that the major causes of adult heart diseases begin in childhood; this includes atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, hypertension, Type II Diabetes and obesity, which had never been seen before.


“Dr. Berenson’s natural curiosity and unending desire to improve health rather than simply treat disease was the key to the beginning of the Bogalusa Heart Study in 1972,” noted Dr. Frank Smart, LSU Health New Orleans Chief of Cardiology and Berenson protégé. “The Bogalusa Heart Study looked at over 16,000 people from Bogalusa, Louisiana and followed them from birth into adulthood. The impact of the Bogalusa Study cannot be over stated. The study was landmark research because it established a link between diet, exercise, and genetics and the development of coronary heart disease. This internationally acclaimed research project is the foundation for diet and lifestyle interventions that are commonly employed today.”

Following his graduation from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1945, Dr. Berenson served in the United States Navy. He was a Navy doctor at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and a ship’s doctor to approximately 400 crew members on the USS Tanner AGS-15.

In 1954, he joined the faculty of LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, where he remained for the next 38 years. He rose through the academic ranks becoming a professor and Chief of Cardiology. Dr. Berenson became Director of the first National Heart Lung Blood Institute National Research and Demonstration Center - Arteriosclerosis. The program operated out of LSU Health New Orleans. It was the first and only National Research and Demonstration Center for Arteriosclerosis; the funding for the first year of the program was $2,691,382 and the funding for the second year was $2,892,631; these are the largest one-year grants he received over the course of his research career, although the total research funding he was awarded was $55 million.

“Dr. Berenson was the first to propose and later implement a modern-day coronary care unit at Charity Hospital,” adds Dr. Smart.

Dr. Berenson rejoined the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine faculty in 2015. His goal was to continue research and to facilitate the development a Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity at LSU Health.

Over six decades of researching the causes of heart disease, Dr. Berenson authored more than 1,000 peer-reviewed publications. He was elected to leadership positions at the Louisiana affiliate of the American Heart Association, the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation and Louisiana Heart Association. Nationally, he served as Governor for Louisiana of the American College of Cardiology and was invited to join the Association of University Cardiologists, an organization that is limited to 125 cardiologists. He was elected Chairman of the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Committee of the American College of Cardiology and was named Laureate of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Berenson was also a president of the American Society of Geriatric Cardiology. He was the recipient of professional awards in cardiology, public health and epidemiology, including the Spirit of Charity Award, the American Heart Association Population Research Prize, the American Heart Association Distinguished Scientist Award, and the Paavo Nurmi Foundation International Award. Dr. Berenson was named 2007 Honorary Alumnus by the LSU Medical Alumni Association.

Dr. Berenson was also honored with numerous awards for community service, philanthropy and humanitarian initiatives, including being named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Bogalusa Rotary Club in 2013 when he also received a Certificate of Merit and Key to the City from Bogalusa Mayor Charles Mizell, as well as the A. I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award from the Anti-Defamation League of New Orleans (awarded jointly with wife Joan Berenson) in 2014.

Dr. Berenson was featured in the multi-part HBO documentary on obesity entitled “The Weight of the Nation,” which includes a substantial segment on the Bogalusa Heart Study.

Among his other interests, Dr. Berenson bred cattle. He received the “Breeder of the Year” Award from Beefmaster Breeders United at the organization's annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

Dr. Berenson is survived by his wife of 67 years, Joan Seidenbach Berenson, four children, Leslie, Ann, Robert and Laurie, as well as nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Services will be held Sunday, November 25, 2018 at Congregation Shir Chadash, 3737 West Esplanade Avenue in Metairie. Visitation begins at 12:00 noon, followed by a service at 1:00 p.m. Burial will be private.


Cardiovascular Center Awarded NIH/NHLBI Grant to
Research the 'Cardioprotective Role of Humanin'




The Cardiovascular Center of Excellence has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) grant, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, to research the 'Cardioprotective Role of Humanin.' 

Myocardial ischemia-reperfusion (MI-R) injury remains a significant healthcare burden in the United States. I-R induces significant bioenergetic changes in the heart with increased reliance on glycolysis during ischemia and fatty acid oxidation (FAO) in the reperfusion phase, changes that exacerbate injury through oxidative stress. Inducing a metabolic switch to favor glucose utilization over mitochondrial FAO limits oxidative stress and I-R injury. However, there are currently no known therapies that safely and effectively induce this switch. This grant will research the roles of humanin (HN), an endogenous mitochondria-associated peptide, that can potentially fulfill this unmet need.

Both David J. Lefer, Ph.D., CV Center Director, and Radhika Hiren Muzumdar, M.D., Chief, Pediatric Endocrinology at the Universityof Pittsburgh, will serve as the grant's principal investigators. The CV Center is the receipent of a subaward, which will bring in more than $410,000 in both direct and indirect fund to the center. 



Cardiovascular Center Reauthorized as Center of Excellence
by LSU Board of Regents


On Wednesday, August 22 the Cardiovascular Center of Excellence receieved reauthorization as a Center of Excellence by the LSU Board of Regents valid for five years through 2023. The process involved compiling the advancements in research, funding, mentoring and events since the inception of the Cardiovascular Center.

The reauthorization signifies the center’s successful representation as ‘a unit that is accountable to higher expectations of performance and productivity and demonstrates that it is a statewide (or beyond) leader in the area of designation.’


In order to qualify for reauthorization, a Center of Excellence should have the following attributes:


  1. The Center has a strong performance record and advances the strategic goals of the institution.
  2. The Center is designated by and focused on an area of education, training or research relevant to the State’s needs. This area is clearly and finitely defined, avoiding overly broad descriptions or goals.
  3. The Center provides a range of academic, training and/or research opportunities in its area of expertise. The programs should be nationally accredited, when applicable.
  4. The Center is engaged with the greater community; its programs focus on addressing current issues and provide opportunities to improve the quality of life of Louisiana citizens.
  5. The Center is a hallmark of the institution. Though not necessarily the only source of education, training, research, and/or economic development in the topical area, the Center is recognized as uniquely strong in its focal area.

As we continue on our mission of research excellence, we would like to thank those that have assisted us to get where we are today.


Special thanks to Nicole Honoree and Dr. Joseph Moerschbaecher!

Dr. Lefer to Lead International Heart Research Society Section | LSU Health Newsroom

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Story: http://www.lsuhsc.edu/newsroom/Lefer%20to%20Lead%20International%20Heart%20Research%20Society%20Section.html


David Lefer, PhD, Director of LSU Health New Orleans’ Cardiovascular Center of Excellence, was inaugurated as President-Elect of the International Society of Heart Research – North American Section at its 37th Annual Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He will serve a three-year term before assuming the presidency.

According to the Society, the mission of the International Society of Heart Research is to promote the discovery and dissemination of knowledge in the cardiovascular sciences on a worldwide basis through publications, congresses and other media. Membership has grown to include more than 3,000 members. The Society has seven sections – North American, Australasian, Chinese, European, Indian, Japanese and Latin American.

Dr. Lefer, who is also a professor of pharmacology, has been working in the fields of myocardial protection and coronary physiology for more than 20 years. He is an internationally recognized leader in understanding the role of nitric oxide and other nitrogen oxide-metabolites in ischemia-reperfusion injury to the heart. His laboratory was among the first to demonstrate the profound loss of endothelial cell-derived nitric oxide from the coronary circulation following coronary artery occlusion and reperfusion. Lefer’s laboratory was the first to report on the potent cardioprotective actions of nitric oxide in acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure.

Several nitrite therapies are currently in clinical trials in the United States and Europe. In 2005, Lefer’s laboratory began studying the potential cytoprotective actions of a second gaseous signaling molecule – hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Lefer’s laboratory was also among the first to demonstrate that H2S helps prevent or limit damage in acute myocardial infarction and heart failure model systems. 


Dr. Qinglin Yang and Lab Team Join Cardiovascular Center

Dr. Qinglin Yang

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Qinglin Yang as the newest addition to the Cardiovascular Center. Dr. Yang joins us as a full professor from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

He is joined by three members of his lab team: Dr. Lothar Lauterboeck, Postdoctoral Fellow (Austria); Dr. Rong Bao, Postdoctoral Fellow (China); and Yicheng “Ethan” Huang, Research Associate (China).

Dr. Yang, along with his lab team, will be based out of labs 426B and 430. His office is located in room 416.


Dr. GottliebSen Published in Annals of Thoracic Surgery for Manuscript Entitled,
'The Transcriptional Signature of Growth in Human Fetal Aortic Valve Development'


Dr. Danielle GottliebSen's, Assistant Professor, manuscript was accepted to the Annals of Thoracic Surgery under the title of, 'The Transcriptional Signature of Growth in Human Fetal Aortic Valve Development'. 

See below for the contents of her abstract:



In the second trimester of human fetal development, a tenfold increase in fetal size occurs, while cardiac valves grow and retain their function. Patterns of transcription in normally growing human aortic valves are unknown.


Discarded human aortic valve samples from the second trimester, six from early (14, 15, 17 weeks), and six from late timepoints (20, 21, 22 weeks) were collected. Network analysis of RNASeq data identified subnetworks of significantly increasing and decreasing transcripts; subsequent cluster analysis identified patterns of transcription through the time course. Pathway enrichment analysis determined the predominant biological processes at each interval.


We observed phasic transcription over the time course, including an early decrease in cell proliferation and developmental genes (14-15 weeks). Pattern specification, shear stress, and adaptive immune genes were induced early. Cell adhesion genes were increased from 14-20 weeks. A phase involving cell differentiation and apoptosis (17-20 weeks) was followed by downregulation of endothelial-to-mesenchymal transformation genes, then by increased ECM organization and stabilization (20-22 weeks).


We present a unique data set, comprehensively characterizing human valve development after valve primordia are formed, focusing on key processes displayed by normal aortic valves undergoing significant growth. We build a time course of genes and processes in second trimester fetal valve growth and observe the sequential regulation of gene clusters over time. Critical valve growth genes are potential targets for therapeutic intervention in congenital heart disease and have implications for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.


Link to full article here

Dr. Goodchild to Give Presentation at TCT 2018 in San Diego


Dr. Goodchild was invited to speak at the annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) in San Diego this August. Her abstract was accepted with the title of, "Renal Denervation Improves Cardiac Function in a Swine Model of Heart Failure". 

Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) is the world’s largest and most important educational meeting specializing in interventional cardiovascular medicine. For 30 years, TCT has been the center of cutting-edge educational content, showcasing the latest advances in current therapies and clinical research. We hope that our longstanding commitment to lifesaving innovation translates into improved patient care.

Dr. Goodchild will be joined by Dr. Sharp in San Diego to represent the LSUHSC New Orleans Cardiovascular Center!

Inaugural Dr. Gerald Berenson Summer Student Symposium  
Wednesday, July 18, 2019


  On Wednesday, July 18 the Cardiovascular Center will host the Inaugural Dr. Gerald Berenson Summer Student Symposium. The event will allow our four summer students to present their research for feedback and critque as they continue towards their careers of becoming researchers and physicians. 

Presentations to be given by:

  • Jack Jenkins | "Delayed Therapy with a Novel  H2S Donor, JK1, Protects against Pressure Overload - Induced Heart Failure"
  • Josh Deblieux | “A Large Animal Model of Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction”
  • Amelia Haydel “Renal Denervation as a Novel Heart Failure Treatment”
  • David Polhemus, Ph.D.  "Modalities for Improving Cell Therapy for Cardiac Injury"


Dr. Goodchild Awarded LSU Lift Grant


Dr. Goodchild was awarded an LSU Leveraging Innovation for Technology Transfer (LIFT^2) Grant to fund her research for the project entitled, "Renal Denervation in Conjunction with Cell Based Therapy to Treat Myocardial Injury." The award will total $50,000 from May 15, 2018 - June 30, 2019.

Congratualtions, Dr. Goodchild! 

Dr. Thomas Sharp III Awarded American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship

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Dr. Thomas Sharp III was awarded the AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship with the American Heart Association. Dr. Sharp’s project title is ‘Combined Cell Therapy and Renal Denervation to Prevent Heart Failure after Myocardial Infarction.’ This is a 2 year award totaling $102,968 that will support Dr. Sharp’s Research.

Congratulations, Dr. Sharp!


Dr. Gottlieb-Sen: Awarded $130,000 in Grant Support; Conducting CAMEO Study; Invited to Speak at Society of Thoracic Surgeons 54th Annual Meeting



  • TSF Nina Starr Braunwald Research Award

$80,000 over two years

This award through the Thoracic Surgery Foundation recognizes and supports research efforts of one women cardiac surgeon in the United States each year. Dr. Gottlieb-Sen will evaluate genes believed to be important in aortic valve development.

The Thoracic Surgery Foundation honored Dr. Gottlieb-Sen at a VIP reception during The Society of Thoracic Surgeons 54th Annual Meeting with the Nina Starr Braunwald Award. This award, in honor of the first female cardiothoracic surgeon, intends to encourage and support women cardiac surgeons to make substantial contributions to their field of clinical surgery and research. Dr. Gottlieb-Sen received this award based on the proposed work of understanding the mechanisms of aortic valve development, with the long-range goal of identifying novel therapies for patients with CHD. 




  • LSU LIFT2 – Leveraging Innovation for Technology Transfer

$50,000 for one year

Clinically relevant innovations are an important component of Dr. Gottlieb-Sen’s laboratory efforts. This grant will fund prototype development of a novel device to autonomously monitor children with CHD, and has relevance beyond the pediatric population.





Dr. Gottlieb-Sen is the site Principal Investigator for a multisite study developed and led by Boston Children’s Hospital. The CAMEO Study evaluates nursing cognitive workload as a way to inform staffing decisions with the ultimate goal of improved clinical outcomes.







The Society of Thoracic Surgeons chose Dr. Gottlieb-Sen’s late breaking abstract for oral presentation during the national meeting where she presented her lab’s findings about genes turned on and off during fetal valve development.



Hydrogen sulfide regulates cardiac mitochondrial biogenesis via the activation of AMPK - 
Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology



LSU Health Authors 

Dr. David J. Lefer



•Hydrogen Sulfide levels influence cardiac mitochondrial content.
•Hydrogen Sulfide induces mitochondrial biogenesis in an AMPK-dependent manner.
•Hydrogen Sulfide activates AMPK via the sulfhydration and inhibition of PP2A.




Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is an important regulator of mitochondrial bioenergetics, but its role in regulating mitochondrial biogenesis is not well understood. Using both genetic and pharmacological approaches, we sought to determine if H2S levels directly influenced cardiac mitochondrial content.



Mice deficient in the H2S-producing enzyme, cystathionine γ-lyase (CSE KO) displayed diminished cardiac mitochondrial content when compared to wild-type hearts. In contrast, mice overexpressing CSE (CSE Tg) and mice supplemented with the orally active H2S-releasing prodrug, SG-1002, displayed enhanced cardiac mitochondrial content. Additional analysis revealed that cardiac H2S levels influenced the nuclear localization and transcriptional activity of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC1α) with higher levels having a positive influence and lower levels having a negative influence. Studies aimed at evaluating the underlying mechanisms found that H2S required AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) to induce PGC1α signaling and mitochondrial biogenesis. Finally, we found that restoring H2S levels with SG-1002 in the setting of heart failure increased cardiac mitochondrial content, improved mitochondrial respiration, improved ATP production efficiency, and improved cardiac function.



Together, these results suggest that hydrogen sulfide is an important regulator of cardiac mitochondrial content and establishes that exogenous hydrogen sulfide can induce mitochondrial biogenesis via an AMPK-PGC1α signaling cascade.


Read full article here



David Polhemus, Ph.D., profiled in American Heart Association Circulation Research


The Cardiovascular Center's own, David Polhemus, Ph.D., was profiled in an edition of the American Heart Association's Circulation Research journal. The journal discusses David's career from the start including his work with Cardiovascular Center director, David J. Lefer, Ph.D. See bellow for a small excerpt from the story as well as a link to the full text:


"Baseball aficionado, David Polhemus, is not one to let a strike avert a home run, nor does he allow a temporary setback in science prevent him from accomplishing the task at hand. David double majored in Chemistry and Economics at Emory University. He recently graduated with a PhD in Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. David currently works in the Lefer lab at Louisiana State University’s Health Sciences Center in New Orleans."


Read Full Text Here.


Dr. Lefer Elected as President for the International Society of Heart Research North American Section


The NAM-ISHR section election was completed on November 30th  where Dr. Lefer was voted President-elect. Dr. Lefer's term as President-elect will begin at the second council meeting at the NAM section meeting in Halifax, May 29-June 1, 2018.  He will serve as President-elect until 2021 when he will begin his 3 year term as President, followed by a 3 year term as past-President. 

Dr. Lefer will succeed current President-Elect, Peipei Ping, Ph.D., and current President, Gary D. Lopaschuk, Ph.D. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Lefer on this amazing achievement! 


Dr. Lefer Appointed to Editorial Board for Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology



Dr. Lefer has been appointed to the editorial board for the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. His role will allow him to peer review publications for the journal relating to his concentrations in cardiovascular research.

We would like to acknowledge and congratulate one of the Cardiovascular Center of Excellence’s participants,
Hunter Hidalgo, for winning 1st place for 2017 Medical Student Research Day poster session.

Hunter’s poster, Novel Rodent Model of Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HF-pEF)," was mentored by David J. Lefer, Ph.D.; Director, Cardiovascular Center of Excellence.



Congratulations, Hunter!



Please join us in congratulating the LSUHSC Cardiovascular Center of Excellence’s own David Polhemus, Ph.D. for receiving the Chancellor’s Award at the Graduate Research Day Award Ceremony this past Friday, November 3, 2017. The award is given to each year to “a high ranking graduating student who has done the most to promote the health sciences and the School before the public. Selection is made by a committee of the faculty appointed by the Dean, with consultation by members of the graduating class.


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Congratulations, David!



Cardiovascular Center at the 2017 LSU Medical School Alumni Gala



Dr. Danielle Gottlieb Sen Nominated for New Orleans CityBusiness
2017 Women of the Year Award


Dr. Danielle Gottlieb Sen, M.D., M.S., MPH, of the Cardiovascular Center of Excellence and New Orleans Children's Hospital has been nominated by her peers as one of the Top 50 New Orleans' Woman of 2017 by New Orleans CityBusiness. Dr. Gottlieb Sen is both a Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgeon and Assistant Professor for the Department of Surgery. Additonally, her contribution to the Cardiovascular field has led to numerous advancements in Cardiovascular care for infants, childrens and adults. She is currently 1 out of approximately 15 female pediatric cardiovascular surgeons in North America.

"The 19th annual “Women of the Year” will be recognized at a noon luncheon Thursday, Nov. 2 at the Hyatt Regency, when an overall Woman of the Year will be announced. A special insert spotlighting all “Women of the Year” honorees will run in the Nov. 10 issue of CityBusiness." (via New Orleans City Buisness)

To view all the nominees for this prestigous award, click here New Orleans CityBusiness.


Cardiovascular Center Published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology



The Cardiovascular Center of Excellence, along with the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, led an all LSU Health New Orleans original investigation into understanding, "Renal Sympathetic Denervation Protects the Failing Heart Via Inhibition of Neprilysin Activity in the Kidney." The investigation was led by CV Center members David Polhemus, Ph.D., Rishi Trivedi, Ph.D., Zhen Li and Amy Scarborough.

The study had a clear objective that 'investigated the effects of radiofrequency renal nerve denervation (RF-RDN) on the pathobiology of HF and the interaction between the renal sympathetic nerves and natriuretic peptide (NP) metabolism.'


Full Investigation here.

Full Editorial here.


Presenting the 2018 Seminar Series


The LSUHSC Center of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research hosts an exciting Cardiovascular Biology Seminar Series! Renowned scientists from prestigious and innovative institutions visit our Center regularly, sharing ideas and inspiring us to become the best. Please take a moment to view the LSU Health Science Center Medical School – Seminar Calendar. These seminars are golden opportunities to learn and visit with other scientists who aspire with similar interests.

To see the full list of presenters, click here.

Downloadable 2018 Seminar Series Poster, (PDF) 



LSUHSC Cardiovascular Center and Novo Biosciences Receive
$1.5 million NIH Grant to Study Myocardial Regeneration


New Orleans, LA (August 28, 2017) – LSU Health Cardiovascular Center of Excellence received a grant award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to research the development, a novel agent, MSI-1346, for therapeutic stimulation of heart regeneration following acute myocardial infarction and heart failure. The grant will provide more than $500,000 in funding over two years to LSUHSC-New Orleans along with Novo Biosciences in Bar Harbor, Maine in ongoing research for the project.


To read the full press release, click here.

$1.3 Million Grant to Fund Research on Reducing Cardiac Injury
with the First Drug-Eluting Guidewire


New Orleans, LA (August 11, 2017) – Adenopaint, LLC of Atlanta, GA, in conjunction with LSU Health New Orleans Cardiovascular Center of Excellence, has been awarded an SBIR Phase II grant in the amount of $1.3 million over two years by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The funding will be used to study the company’s Adenowire, a novel guidewire coated with a drug which is released during percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) to prevent and reverse vascular and cardiac tissue injury during PCI and therefore improve outcomes in cardiovascular diseases.


To read the full press release, click here.



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