The A-Team

| Written by Susan Gammon
From left: Rolf Bodmer, Ph.D., Chris Larson, Ph.D., Karen Ocorr, Ph.D., Evan Muse, M.D., Ph.D., Alexandre Colas, Ph.D.
From left: Rolf Bodmer, Ph.D., Chris Larson, Ph.D., Karen Ocorr, Ph.D., Evan Muse, M.D., Ph.D., Alexandre Colas, Ph.D.

Your heart skips a beat, races, then flutters. You think to yourself: Is this something serious? Perhaps you instinctively feel for your pulse, which is weak and erratic. These heart palpitations could be atrial fibrillation (AFib), one of the most common types of arrhythmia.

At least six million people in the U.S. alone are living with some variation of AFib. For some, the symptoms are worrisome. For others, it’s very serious and can increase a person’s risk of stroke and more severe heart problems.

Current treatment options for AFib are limited. Some include serious side effects—and are rarely curative.

Our vision at Sanford Burnham Prebys is very ambitious: to emerge as the world’s leader in AFib drug discovery and development by 2025. Beyond this, our vision is to change the course of care for all people with AFib.

“In recent years we have learned that there are many—actually over a hundred—genetic variations linked to AFib,” says Evan Muse, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist at Scripps Clinic and investigator at Scripps Research Translational Institute, who will be collaborating with Sanford Burnham Prebys. “In other words, not all AFib is alike. This opens the door to developing more personalized treatments, tailored for each patient, based on genetics, heart rhythm characteristics and clinical risk factors.”

“Now is the time for innovation, discovery and improvement in AFib health outcomes,” says Rolf Bodmer, Ph.D., director of Sanford Burnham Prebys’ Development, Aging and Regeneration Program. “As scientists, we are focused on the goal—helping patients with AFib—and we are collaborating toward that goal.”

We have assembled a team of our talented experts in fundamental biology and drug discovery and clinical researchers from Scripps Clinic to develop personalized, low- risk treatments for AFib. Our plans include developing essential industry and philanthropic partnerships with those who understand the impact of collaborative science and are passionate about better solutions for patients with AFib.