F E A T U R E D S C H O L A R
Cardiologist Ehrin Armstrong
HEARTACHE IS NOT NEW to cardiologist Ehrin Armstrong. In fact, it’s his life’s work. As an interventional cardiology fellow and researcher in the UC Davis Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Armstrong is using flow cytometry, microfluidic adhesion assays and other sophisticated techniques to better understand the immune system’s response to a heart attack. His research is focused on the biology of specific immune system cells (subtypes of monocytes, the pro-inflammatory CD14++ and CD16++ cells) and their role in mounting an inflammatory response that forms plaque in coronary arteries.
“We have excellent immediate treatments for a heart attack, but we still don’t understand the biology of what happens afterward to prevent secondary coronary events,” he said. “My research on monocytes and inflammation aims to identify biomarkers that can be used as a tool to identify subgroups of patients who are at increased risk for subsequent cardiovascular events.”
A recent graduate of the Mentored Clinical Research Training Program (MCRTP) at the UC Davis CTSC, Armstrong is conducting research with two primary mentors – Jason Rogers, director of interventional cardiology at the UC Davis Vascular Center, and Scott Simon, a UC Davis professor of biomedical engineering who specializes in monocyte integrin biology and microfluidics. Armstrong credits this synergistic combination of mentors for making his interdisciplinary research even possible.
Frederick Meyers, executive associate dean at the UC Davis School of Medicine, underscores the benefit of multidisciplinary mentoring. “By interweaving clinical cardiovascular medicine, clinical translational science methods and bioengineering, Armstrong and his mentors demonstrate the synergy of team science.”
Armstrong has received numerous honors and awards for his leading-edge work. In 2012, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions recognized his oral abstract among the best at its annual meeting, and he received the American College of Cardiology’s Young Author Achievement Award for the best manuscript published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions.
Of his experience, Armstrong said, “The MCRTP encourages young investigators to pursue innovative approaches to answer a research question. Interacting with physicians and scientists from across the UC Davis campus who have different levels of research experience opened up a number of opportunities for collaboration.”
Curiosity for pursuing innovative approaches to patient care, in combination with careful research and analysis, provides insights to identify novel ways to help patients. This is the essence of biomedical research that Armstrong exemplifies in his quest to find answers.