Under the direction of Jonathan Kirk, PhD, the Kirk lab at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine studies the mechanisms and functional consequences of the weakening heart during various cardiovascular diseases.
We are located at the Center for Translational Research and Education, eight miles west of downtown Chicago.
What We Study
We are driven by our goal to understand and treat heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and cardiovascular disease.
At its core, Heart failure results in a reduced ability of the heart to fill with blood and then pump it throughout the body. This pumping function is driven by the ability of millions of heart cells (myocytes) to contract with every heart beat. Inside each of these cells is a protein lattice called the myofilament, which is what causes myocytes, and the heart, to contract.
What We Do
The Kirk lab uses sophisticated biophysical assays to study human and animal models of disease to understand the molecular mechanisms that cause the myofilament to malfunction.
Function is controlled by switches (post-translational modifications) on these myofilament proteins. We use mass spectrometry to discover how these have been incorrectly switched on or off in disease.
Then we use animal models, human heart tissue, small molecules, and gene therapy to translate these findings to treat disease.
The Kirk lab is supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the Department of Defense, the Loyola University Cardiovascular Research Institute, and partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry.
We are also supported by collaborators at Loyola, across the country, and around the world.