Research

The Heart Foundation supports a large and diverse research program devoted to unraveling the causes of heart disease at a genetic and molecular level, improving methods of early detection, and developing and testing new preventive and therapeutic strategies.

About Dr. P.K. Shah

drShah

P.K. Shah, MD

Prediman Krishan (P.K.) Shah, MD is Director of the Division of Cardiology and holds the Shapell and Webb Family Endowed Chair at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He also is the Director of the Oppenheimer Atherosclerosis Research Center at Cedars-Sinai where he leads several studies that focus on heart disease prevention and treatment.

Dr. Shah has been Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) since 1992. In the early 1990s, he worked in the cardiovascular research laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital of the Harvard Medical School in Boston. At that time, the laboratory was under the leadership of Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD. He devotes 60 percent of his professional hours to patient care and the balance of his time to research, administrative, and teaching responsibilities.

Dr. P.K. ShahDr. Shah joined Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Department of Cardiology staff in 1977 as attending cardiologist and was named director of Radionuclide Research on the Coronary Care Unit, a post he held until 1984. From 1979 to 1984, Shah served as director of NIH-sponsored Clinical Core of Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) at Cedars-Sinai. He was principal investigator of a study funded by a National Institutes of Health SCOR grant for the application of radionuclides in the evaluation of acute myocardial infarction. He was named chairman of the fourth-year student cardiology training program in 1980, a position he held until 1997. From 1980 until 1995, he served as director of the inpatient cardiology and coronary care units.

Dr. Shah received his premedical degree from Sri Pratap College in his hometown of Srinagar, Kashmir, India. He also received his medical degree from Medical College in Srinagar and completed an internship at SMHS Hospital before moving on to New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences for a residency in neurology. Following an internship at Mount Sinai Hospital in Milwaukee, Dr. Shah completed two more residencies in internal medicine – one at Mount Sinai in Milwaukee and the other at Montefiore Hospital of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. After a fellowship in cardiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine-Montefiore Medical Center, he came to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 1976 and completed a research fellowship in cardiology the following year. He was named director of the medical center’s Cardiovascular Fellowship Training Program in 1988 and director of the Atherosclerosis Research Center in 1993. He has held the Shapell and Webb Family Endowed Chair in Cardiology since 1990 and has served as director of the Division of Cardiology since 1995.

Dr. Shah has edited three books on heart disease and published more than 550 scientific papers, reviews, book chapters and abstracts. He serves on the editorial boards of the peer-reviewed journals: Circulation, American Journal of Cardiology, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, International Journal of Heart Failure, Indian Heart Journal, Journal of Preventive Cardiology, Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine, Current Cardiology Reports, and Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Well respected by his peers, Dr. Shah has been invited to lecture in many areas of the world and has been a Fulbright Visiting Professor to Japan, Taiwan, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. He also has served as visiting professor at highly respected medical and educational centers, including the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Texas Heart Institute, University of Utah, University of Virginia, University of Texas at San Antonio and Medical Branch in Galveston, University of California at San Diego and San Francisco, and Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Shah is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American College of Physicians, and the American College of Chest Physicians. He has been a member of the ACC’s Annual Scientific Program Committee, and he has co-chaired the Clinical Cardiology (ClinCard) Spotlight sessions.

Dr. Shah is the immediate past-president of the American Heart Association (AHA) – Western States Affiliate and a member of the AHA-Western Regional Board. He is a long-time volunteer with the American Heart Association at the national, regional and local levels. He was also president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the AHA in 2001 and 2002 and has served as a member of the Los Angeles Board and the Western Regional Peer-Review Group. Dr. Shah has chaired the AHA’s Educational Task Force and the Fall Symposium and has been a member of the research committee, national scientific program committee and Young Investigators Award Group. He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Larry King Cardiac Foundation and serves as the National Chairman of the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s National Cardiovascular Research Initiative (NCRI) which was launched in 2001. He is a member of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) of the National Institutes of Health and serves on the Data Safety Monitoring Board of the Cell and Gene Therapy Trials of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH. He was also elected to the European Academy of Sciences.

He has won numerous awards, including the Gifted Teacher Award from the American College of Cardiology, an Excellence in Teaching Award from the Dean of the UCLA School of Medicine, and two Golden Apple Awards from the school’s senior medical students. In 2002, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles branch of the American Heart Association. In October 2007, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center awarded Dr. Shah the Pioneer in Medicine Award, the highest award given at the Medical Center. In 2008, he received the annual distinguished teaching award from the Cardiology Fellows at Cedars-Sinai. Also in 2008, Dr Shah received two very prestigious awards from the American Heart Association during its annual scientific sessions in New Orleans: The James B Herrick Award and The Laennec Society Lectureship Award.

In 1992, Dr. Shah and his colleagues began studying a mutant gene that was found in a small number of inhabitants of a northern Italian town. Compared to the normal gene (apolipoprotein A-1), the mutant gene (apo A-1 Milano) produces a form of HDL (high-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol) that provides greater protection against atherosclerosis and vascular inflammation – processes that lead to clogged arteries, heart attacks, and strokes.

In 1994 and 1998, Dr. Shah showed for the first time that intravenous injection of a genetically engineered form of the protein markedly reduced arterial plaque buildup in rabbits and mice fed a high-cholesterol diet. Subsequent animal studies confirmed the potent effects of the apo A-1 Milano protein on prevention and reversal of plaque buildup, and early clinical trials conducted elsewhere found similar results in humans. In preparation for large-scale human trials, additional animal studies are being planned at Cedars-Sinai, and a major pharmaceutical company is developing facilities to produce substantial quantities of the purified apo A-I Milano protein.

Dr. Shah’s work with the apo A-I Milano protein was the subject of CBS’ 60 Minutes in 1994 and 1995.

In 2005, Dr. Shah reported that transfer of the apo A-1 Milano gene itself – not just the protein – had been accomplished, also with favorable results. A single injection of a harmless virus engineered to carry the gene enabled mice to manufacture their own supply of the protein produced by the gene. The animals received the protective benefits with a single gene injection rather than repeated protein injections. Safety and efficacy studies are continuing.

Animal studies conducted in Dr. Shah’s laboratory and the laboratory of Dr. Shah’s longtime collaborator Swedish scientist Dr. Jan Nilsson found that a vaccine created from the low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) molecule significantly reduced plaque buildup in animals that had high cholesterol levels. Experimental studies on this novel Vaccine for Heart Disease continue and human studies are planned within the next few years.