Cardiovascular Metabolism

Cardiovascular Metabolism Program

Investigating the body’s metabolism system is leading to novel targets and therapeutics aimed at cardiovascular disease.


New technologies are allowing us to study the biology behind heart failure, heart attack and stroke. We are identifying biochemical, genetic, and image-based biomarkers that define specific cardiovascular diseases to develop and guide individualized approaches to diagnose and treat disease.

What is the focus of the program?

The Cardiovascular Metabolism Program emphasizes the study of the disease biology responsible for the number one cause of morbidity, mortality and health care expenditure in our society – cardiovascular disease, which includes heart failure, heart attack and stroke.

Thematic strengths of the Program include fuel metabolism – the way the heart and other muscles burn both traditional and alternative fuels to support organ integrity, strength and function throughout life. Other important research includes understanding signaling hormones and metabolites that control muscle health, regeneration and blood vessel integrity.

A key area of interest in the Program is to understand the how crosstalk between muscle and other organs in the body, including liver and fat tissue, supports overall cardiovascular health, and how obesity and diabetes disrupt a healthy dialog among these organs.

These fundamental studies are tied to the identification of biochemical, genetic or imaging-based biomarkers that define specific cardiovascular diseases and lead to the identification of candidate molecules and pathway targets to help guide individualized approaches to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease.

How will our research help patients?

Diabetes and obesity impair the heart’s function as a pump, skeletal muscle strength and blood flow. This causes fatigue, weakness, stroke, heart attack and pre-disposes to premature death. Our mission in the CMP is to exploit fuel metabolism and hormonal regulation to discover new molecular targets and therapeutics that preserve or restore cardiovascular health. In this way, we seek to develop personalized strategies that reduce cardiovascular frailty in order to maintain patient lifespan, health-span and overall vitality.



Hu C, Zhou J, Yang S, Li H, Wang C, Fang X, Fan Y, Zhang J, Han X, Wen C
Free Radic Biol Med 2016 Dec;101:475-481
Sunico CR, Sultan A, Nakamura T, Dolatabadi N, Parker J, Shan B, Han X, Yates JR 3rd, Masliah E, Ambasudhan R, Nakanishi N, Lipton SA
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2016 Nov 22;113(47):E7564-E7571
Yang K, Han X
Trends Biochem Sci 2016 Nov;41(11):954-969