By Wendy Sarubbi | September 4, 2012 10:05 am

Heart disease research is such a part of Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy’s life that his recent presentation at the American Heart Association Education & Research Salon was aptly titled, “My Heart is an Open Book.”

Dr. Parthasarathy holds the Florida Hospital Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Science at the UCF College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. And on August 15, he spoke to Heart Association supporters and donors about the importance of research into treatments and cures for heart disease, the leading killer of men and women in America.

Dr. Parthasarathy has been conducting heart research for 30 years and is credited with the co-discovery of a major cardiovascular concept – how oxidized LDL cholesterol blocks arterial vessels in the heart. One of his current areas of study is sesame oil, a 5,000-year-old oil used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. Dr. Parthasarathy’s research has found tremendous heart benefits from the oil and his team is now working to “extract the goodness of this oil” for heart disease prevention and treatment.  He also discussed new research on how exercise aids heart health differently in men and women and ways that aspirin “can do more than prevent clotting, it can extend life.”

Dr. Parthasarathy also presented to attendees a musical themed review of all the heart research being done at the Burnett school. Each researcher’s work was identified with a song title. For example, Dr. Steven Ebert’s research theme was “I Feel Good,” because he is studying how the hormone that creates positive emotions can help heart cells. Dr. Henry Daniell’s theme was the song “Green, Green  Green” for his work in using bio-engineered plants to cure diseases such as diabetes. Dr. Antonis Zervos’ work “Live and Let Die,” focuses on the importance of cell life and death to health. Dr. Ella Bossy-Wetzel’s research into the elements of fat that are helpful and harmful to the heart was characterized by the song “Heart Breaker.”

Dr. Judith Altarejos also discussed the heart research being conducted at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. She discussed Sanford-Burnham’s work to translate research into personalized patient treatments and studies of obesity and diabetes – two leading causes of heart disease.

In welcoming guests to the College of Medicine and a tour of the new medical education building, Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the college, told her own family’s experience with heart disease and research. She described how her father had suffered from untreated strep throat as a child, which caused rheumatic heart disease. Thanks to medical research at the time, Dr. German’s father received artificial valves to combat his diseased and scarred heart. Today, people don’t suffer from or die from rheumatic heart disease because medical research has discovered antibiotics that treat strep throat and prevent that condition, she said.

“Medical research is an invisible safety net for all of us,” Dr. German explained. “Today my father is 85 years old and today’s children don’t have to face the possibility of losing a parent to heart disease because of a case of strep throat.”

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