Hereditary factors play an important role in the development and progression of cardiovascular disease. The objective of the research program of Timothy M. Olson, M.D., is to discover genetic variants that cause or confer susceptibility to heart and blood vessel disorders in otherwise healthy children and young adults. Family-based experimental strategies include genetic linkage analysis to map the genomic location of novel disease genes, whole-exome and -genome sequencing, and hypothesis-based mutation scanning of candidate genes.
Dr. Olson's research focuses on three heritable conditions:
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). A progressive form of heart failure, DCM represents the most common indication for cardiac transplantation in children and adults.
- Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). Impaired fetal heart development results in HLHS, the most lethal congenital heart defect in newborns.
- Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). Resulting in acute coronary artery tears, SCAD is increasingly recognized as a cause for myocardial infarction in young women.
Significance to patient care
The long-term objective of Dr. Olson's research is to decipher the underlying molecular mechanisms of idiopathic cardiovascular disorders and apply this knowledge toward new diagnostic and therapeutic solutions for patients and their families.