TEDx Profiles: The innovator

Dr. Narine Sarvazyan revolutionizes cardiovascular research

GW Musket | Anthony Nguyen | April 22, 2016

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TEDxFoggyBottom 2016 has brought an impressive number of speakers to the annual conference on April 23rd, and one speaker in particular stands out; described as a medical innovator, Dr. Narine Sarvazyan has devoted much of her professional and academic career to researching cardiac arrhythmia and seeking out new imaging techniques meant to treat them.

Sarvazyan has produced extensive research working with stem cells, specifically by improving immunological compatibility. In addition, she has focused on the creation of rhythmically contracting cuffs of heart muscle cells meant to move biological fluid in vessels. Thankfully, if you’ve experienced any of this first-hand, then you’ll know the importance of Professor Sarvazyan’s research.

According to her TEDx bio, Sarvazyan graduated from Moscow State University with a degree in Biophysics in 1986 before later receiving a PhD from the Institute of Experimental Biology in Yerevan, Armenia. Soon after, she completed her postdoctoral training at the Belgrade Institute of General and Physical Chemistry and at the Medical College of Ohio, Toledo. Professor Sarvazyan joined the Pharmacology and Physiology department at GW in 2004.

Currently, Sarvazyan is a professor of cardiovascular physiology at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Professor Sarvazyan became interested in cardiac research during her post-doctoral years in which she was working with cardiac muscle cells.

On the subject, Sarvazyan said, “the structure and function of these cells and how they all work together continues to fascinate me.”

Professor Sarvazyan finds her work endlessly interesting. In discussing how her research relates to biophysics, as “there are a lot of intrinsic elements of physics in cardiac physiology as there are wave propagation and electrical recordings or different types of advanced imaging.”

Sarvazyan’s work on cardiac arrhythmia and with stem cells seems abstract; however, Sarvazyan has been able to see her research grow to the point of now having begun initial testing in human patients. According to Sarvazyan, this project “involves the development of a new catheter that can sense the functional state of cardiac tissue during surgery.” This project has now passed the initial testing in human patients.

Narine Sarvazyan’s accomplishments as a researcher and professor to the GW School of Medicine and to her field, underscores her willingness to persevere and her enthusiasm for medicine. With Professor Sarvazyan’s research already in initial human testing, it is clear the studies will make a significant impact. TEDxFoggyBottom has done well to invite one of the foremost innovators in medicine to speak and show our community how her research will revolutionize cardiovascular treatment.

Special thanks to GW Musket writer Gabby Goldsmith for her contribution to this article.