NIH issues nearly $3M for artificial heart research

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a $2.8 million grant to develop a ‘pulse-less’ total artificial heart using two MicroMed Cardiovascular ventricular assist devices (VADs) initially created by Michael DeBakey , MD, and George Noon, MD. The grant represents a renewal for a second year of research.

Principal investigator Bud Frazier, MD, chief of cardiopulmonary transplantation and director of surgical research at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, developed the Total Artificial Heart, which uses two MicroMed HeartAssist 5 VADs. One VAD circulates blood throughout the body and the other circulates blood to and from the lungs. The HeartAssist 5 pump weighs 92 grams and measures 2.8 x 1.2 inches.

The research goal is to continue development of an algorithm for balancing the left and right pumps, to design an integrated controller that can run both pumps and to evaluate which physiologic sensors are necessary for the controller, according to Robert Benkowski, chief operating officer at MicroMed.

The grant was originally awarded in June 2008 under the NIH Bioengineering Research Partnership. The Total Artificial Heart project is a joint effort by Texas Heart Institute, University of Houston, Rice University in Houston and MicroMed. The project described was supported by grant number R01HL085054 awarded to Texas Heart Institute by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).