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Heart Institute

USF Heart Institute

Welcome to the USF Health Heart Institute

We are located in the in the center of Water Street Tampa, a revitalized downtown region where our faculty and students can enjoy a healthy, energy-efficient lifestyle within walking distance of renowned entertainment venues, innovative dining, and outdoor recreational activities.

State-of-the-art laboratories and core facilities supported through National Institutes of Health and other federal grant sources, foundations, industry, and USF-generated resources create a vibrant environment for research. We have a particular interest in recruiting funded scientists with high risk-high potential gain projects, those using cutting-edge technology, and those seeking to unite basic and translational sciences to directly benefit patients.

Whether you are a patient, potential faculty recruit, donor, or citizen of the Tampa Bay region, I invite you to take a look at the faculty accomplishments on this website and join us in supporting research and innovation at the USF Health Heart Institute.

Congratulations to Dr. Liggett!

Dr. Stephen Liggett has been named Distinguished Professor! For more information, please read more here.

Congratulations to Isabella Hetherington!

Isabella Hetherington was awarded the F31 predoctoral fellowship from the NIH NHLBI that aim to develop a novel site-and cell-selective mRNA therapeutic to treat atherosclerosis. She is a PhD student under the mentorship of Dr. Hana Totary-Jain at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Heart Institute.



Da-Zhi Wang John Mably

Congratulations to Dr. Wang and Dr. Mably!

Dr. Da-Zhi Wang and Dr. John Mably's article titled "Reduced Mitochondrial Protein Translation Promotes Cardiomyocyte Proliferation and Heart Regeneration" was published in Circulation 31 Oct 2023. Please see the link here



Featured Faculty

Stephen Liggett, MD

Stephen Liggett, MD

Vice Dean for Research, Morsani College of Medicine
Associate Vice President for Research, USF Health
Distinguished Professor of Internal Medicine

Da-Zhi Wang

Da-Zhi Wang, PhD

Professor, USF Health Heart Institute
Director, Center for Regenerative Medicine
Thomas McDonald, MD

Thomas McDonald, MD

Professor, USF Health Heart Institute

Ganesh Halade, PhD

Ganesh Halade, PhD

Associate Professor, USF Health Heart Institute 


The regulation of the informational flow from the mitochondria to the nucleus (mitonuclear communication) is not fully characterized in the heart. We have determined that mitochondrial ribosomal protein S5 (MRPS5/uS5m) can regulate cardiac function and key pathways to coordinate this process during cardiac stress. We demonstrate that loss of Mrps5 in the developing heart leads to cardiac defects and embryonic lethality while postnatal loss induces cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure.


In patients with acute coronary syndromes, surgical revascularization with percutaneous coronary intervention has greatly reduced mortality rates. However, stent thrombosis and neo-atherosclerosis have emerged as major safety concerns of drug eluting stents due to delayed re-endothelialization. This review summarizes the major milestones, strengths, and limitations of current anti-atherosclerotic therapies. It provides an overview of the recent discoveries and emerging game-changing technologies in the fields of nanomedicine, mRNA therapeutics, and gene editing that have the potential to revolutionize CVD clinical practice by steering it toward precision medicine.

Hypertension and kidney disease have been repeatedly associated with genomic variants and alterations of lysine metabolism. Here, we combined stable isotope labeling with untargeted metabolomics to investigate lysine’s metabolic fate in vivo. Dietary 13C6 labeled lysine was tracked to lysine metabolites across various organs.

To read more about Accelerated Lysine Metabolism, click here

Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), encoded by Nppa, is a vasodilatory hormone that promotes salt excretion. Genome-wide association studies identified Nppa as a causative factor of blood pressure development, and in humans, ANP levels were suggested as an indicator of salt sensitivity. This study aimed to provide insights into the effects of ANP on cardiorenal function in salt-sensitive hypertension.

USF Health Heart Institute News

USF Health $5.6 million study to define link between genetics and heart disease in many Friedreich’s ataxia patients

Researchers at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine were awarded $5.6 million of expected funds for a 4-year study from the U.S. Department of Defense to examine why many people with Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) go on to also develop heart disease, a major cause of death for those with FA.

“We still don’t have a full understanding of the genetic mutation for Friedrich’s ataxia to determine why so many patients go on to get heart disease – we need to know,” Dr. Thomas McDonald, Principal investigator for the USF study, said.

Read more about the USF Health study being conducted define a link between genetics and heart disease Friedrich ataxia patients, here.