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Heart Institute

USF Heart Institute

USF Health Heart Institute internal heart scan

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.





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.

To learn more about this study, read the USF Health News story here.

Please review the article here.


Headshot of Dae Hyun Lee an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

Congratulations to Dae Hyun Lee!

Dae Hyun Lee was awarded the Career Development Award from the American Heart Association. His project aims to investigate the role of hematopoietic stem cell-specific MYC expression as driver of cardiovascular disease in myelofibrosis. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. He is mentored by multidisciplinary experts, including Dr. Seongseok Yun and Dr. John Cleveland (from Moffitt Cancer Center) and Dr. Thomas McDonald and Dr. Ganesh Halade from the Heart Institute!


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
Director, USF - Cardiogenetics Program

Ganesh Halade, PhD

Ganesh Halade, PhD

Associate Professor, USF Health Heart Institute 

Recent Publications

Mast-cell expressed membrane protein-1 is expressed in classical monocytes and alveolar macrophages in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and regulates cell chemotaxis, adhesion, and migration in a TGFβ-dependent manner

Mast-cell expressed membrane protein-1 (MCEMP1) is higher in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) with an increased risk of death. Here we aimed to establish the mechanistic role of MCEMP1 in pulmonary fibrosis. We identified increased MCEMP1 expression in classical monocytes and alveolar macrophages in IPF compared with controls. MCEMP1 is upregulated by transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) at the mRNA and protein levels in monocytic leukemia THP-1 cells. TGFβ-mediated MCEMP1 upregulation results from the cooperation of SMAD3 and SP1 via concomitant binding to SMAD3/SP1 cis-regulatory elements within the MCEMP1 promoter. We also found that MCEMP1 regulates TGFβ-mediated monocyte chemotaxis, adhesion, and migration. Our results suggest that MCEMP1 may regulate the migration and transition of monocytes to monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages during pulmonary fibrosis development and progression.

Read more about the research on Mast-Cell Expressed Membrane Protien-1 (MCEMP1).

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.

Read more about Accelerated Lysine Metabolism.

USF Health Heart Institute News

Picture of Dr. Kami Kim, Dr. Aarti Patel, Dr. Thomas McDonald, and Dr. Theresa Zesiewicz.

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.