Program: Molecular Cell Biology
Current advisor: Stacey L. Rentschler, MD, PhD
Undergraduate university: Cornell University
This past summer I worked in the lab of Dr. Stacey Rentschler, where we studied the effects of SARS-COV-2 in the cardiovascular system. Although SARS-COV-2 has primarily been recognized as a respiratory virus infecting the lungs, acute cardiac injury has been found in 20-30% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, contributing to 40% of deaths. It is known that SARS-COV-2 enters cells through the ACE2 receptor, which is expressed in various cell types across the cardiovascular system, including human cardiomyocytes, fibroblasts, vascular smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells, and pericytes. With such diverse cardiovascular ACE2 expression, myocardial injury seen in COVID-19 patients may result from direct myocardial infection and subsequent cell death or indirect consequences of increased circulating cytokine levels triggered by vascular infection, with resultant immune-mediated destruction of the myocardium. We are therefore investigating the tropism and viral entry pathways of SARS-COV-2 to develop novel therapeutic strategies and reduce cardiovascular-associated deaths in COVID-19.
Brumback BD, Dmytrenko O, Robinson AN, Bailey AL, Ma P, Liu J, Hicks SC, Ng S, Li G, Zhang DM, Lipovsky CE, Lin CY, Diamond MS, Lavine K, Rentschler SL. 2022 Human Cardiac Pericytes are Susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 Infection. JACC Basic Transl Sci, (Epub ahead of print):.