I am an MD-research scientist in the field of heart failure and myocardial fibrosis, and my research focus is on the emerging field of cardio-oncology. Through murine, nonhuman primate models and clinical studies, I am deeply committed to contributing to the understanding of cardiotoxicity induced by chemotherapy, to uncover the underlying causes of cardiovascular morbidities in cancer survivors and to identify novel interventions to prevent and/or treat them.
I initiated my career in science at the University of South Carolina, School of Medicine, where I focused my research on the molecular mediators of myocardial extracellular matrix remodeling and heart failure. Specifically, my research project led to several important discoveries about inflammatory cytokines TNF- α, IL-6, and its soluble receptor, and their role in myocardial remodeling and heart failure. After joining Wake Forest University, School of Medicine in 2012, I conducted pre-clinical trials and translational studies in non-human primates, exploring the effects of chemotherapies on cardiac fibroblasts and myocardial extracellular matrix remodeling. Motivated by my interest in cancer therapy cardiotoxicity, I trained in cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging to noninvasively evaluate myocardial fibrosis using innovative T1 and T2 mapping techniques; to date, I frequently use these in pre-clinical animal models to enhance the translatability of our research. I continue to be actively involved in clinical trials and population cardiovascular research exploring the contribution of cardiac fibrosis to cancer therapy-induced left ventricular dysfunction.
I currently hold a K award to investigate cellular senescence and associated mitochondrial dysfunction links to myocardial fibrosis and left ventricular dysfunction induced by anthracycline therapy used to treat cancers. These results will uncover novel cellular and molecular mechanisms that can be targeted with the prospect of continuing bridging basic science and preclinical studies with clinical research to advance effective interventions to minimize cardiotoxicity among cancer survivors.
Melendez Lab - Investigating molecular mechanisms of disease through metabolomics analysis.