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Flattening the curve

Flattening the curveAlmost 30 years after starting my Physics undergrad at Univ, I am a Professor of Physiology and Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Kentucky. Our research group tries to help patients who have heart failure by bridging the scientific gaps between molecular, cellular, and organ-level function. I also lead several biospecimens programs at the university. These are similar to the NHS Biobank in Britain and collect specimens (things like blood, myocardium, adipose tissue, etc.) from patients and then distribute them to research groups to support bench-to-bedside science.

Kentucky implemented social distancing ahead of many US states and I’ve been working from a temporary desk in my home basement since 13 March. Despite the new, rather dark, location I’ve been able to help coordinate the collection of biospecimens from patients who have COVID-19. Scientists at our university are using these samples to improve antibody tests and to study how the virus changes how blood coagulates.

Like many others, I am in multiple Zoom meetings each week. A chance remark during one of the first sessions reminded me that our lab had an unpublished dataset that included information about a protein called ACE2 in human hearts. It turns out that the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects cells by binding to ACE2 so our data could be useful to cardiologists who need to understand how the virus affects cardiac function. We’ve mined the data, and in collaboration with colleagues in Copenhagen, will be submitting a scientific paper in the next few days.

It’s a challenging time for everyone but our Heart Institute’s therapy dog reminds us every day to emphasise “Courage above Fear”. I’m grateful to everybody on the front lines and glad that I have been able to keep busy and make a very small contribution to the fight against the virus.

Kenneth S. Campbell, PhD, (1990, Physics)
Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Physiology
Director, Biospecimens Core, Center for Clinical and Translational Science
Director, COVID-19 Research Registry and Specimen Bank
Director, Gill Cardiovascular Biorepository
University of Kentucky

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