The research enterprise within the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery is facilitated by 12 Physicians and 8 Research scientists, who are involved in clinical, translational and outcomes research, for the development of clinical excellence and support of our academic mission. Our surgeons actively conduct cutting-edge studies that have been published in leading peer- reviewed medical journals that significantly contribute to the science of cardiac health and patient care.

The clinical research in the cardiothoracic division is directed by Dr. James Kirklin. Dr. Kirklin is the principal investigator of Interagency Registry for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support (INTERMACS), a national registry that tracks patients who are receiving mechanical circulatory support device therapy to treat advanced heart failure. The registry is a joint effort of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration, clinicians, scientists and industry representatives. Researchers at UAB coordinate data collection and analyses, and the Data Coordinating Center at UAB is responsible for maintaining the database. This registry, established in 2005, is now in its 10th year of robust, collaborative and outcomes focused research, facilitating the introduction of novel devices, refinement of clinical practice, improvements in patient outcomes, and enhancement of quality of life for thousands of patients.

Dr. Kirklin was instrumental in the formation of the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study (PHTS) and in establishing UAB as headquarters for this program. Clinical information on transplant recipients and donors from more than 40 major heart transplant centers in the United States is collected and maintained in PHTS database that is used to conduct research studies to determine and improve the outcomes of heart transplantation, to improve cardiac health, care and maximize long-term quality of life after transplantation.

Dr. Kirklin is presently the Co-Director of the UAB Comprehensive Cardiovascular Center (CCVC). The CCVC provides an important institutional mechanism for promoting basic, translational and outcomes research, as well as for drug and biomarker development in partnership with small business and industry. 
The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery also facilitates an established basic science research of heart failure, transplantation, and vascular disease to determine the detailed molecular mechanisms of cardiac disease and treatments. UAB's cardiovascular research laboratories are primary sites for the development of rodent surgical models to study cause of ischemic injury on cardiac tissue and processes to study one such protein, called Heme- oxygenase-1, that can protect organs from acute injury and vascular damage resulting from immunologic or physical injury.

In addition to our extensive outcomes research program, our faculty actively participates as investigators in industry sponsored clinical trials.