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Taking Science to Heart

Selma Mohammed, MD, PhD, Brings Scientific Research Interest to her Clinical Practice in Heart Failure

Selma Mohammed, MD, PhD had already discovered a fascination with cardiology since she was a junior medical student. “I was intrigued by cardiovascular physiology,” she says. A mentor at Mayo Clinic, where she completed her PhD work, convinced her that the burgeoning field of heart failure medicine needed more scientists to analyze data and study the benefits of newly developed therapies.

“My passion for cardiology grew as I learned more about the endless research opportunities and continued discovery of new and exciting drug and device therapies,” she says.

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Selma Mohammed, MD, PhD

Last October, when Dr. Mohammed joined MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute (MHVI) at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, she came with two goals: treating heart failure and heart transplant patients in the clinic, and generating research to help establish best practices for her patients. “My main research focus is on understanding hemodynamics and vascular changes with heart failure, and mechanisms and therapies for right heart failure,” she says. “And MHVI is at the forefront of testing many new therapies that hold potential for these patients.”

As a scientific lead for the heart failure research team, Dr. Mohammed is now engaged in several projects that span investigator-initiated studies, multicenter clinical trials and national registries.

“We are also starting a heart failure registry,” she says. “While I specialize in advanced heart failure and cardiac transplantation, I also see heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction, infiltrative cardiomyopathies and valvular heart disease.” MHVI, she notes, is well known for its excellence in clinical cardiovascular care and is highly ranked at the national level.  She says, “What excited me in particular about coming here is the unique clinical research opportunities afforded. MHVI is well-positioned for a leadership role in the research arena because of the vision of the leadership to promote research endeavors; the enthusiasm of the investigators; and the volume and diversity of the patient population we encounter.”

Research is needed because change is coming quickly. “Previously,” she says, “if a patient was very sick with heart failure, the only option was a heart transplant. Nationally, about 250,000 patients have advanced heart failure, yet only about 2,800 hearts were transplanted in 2015, so having new alternatives for circulatory support like VADs means a big change.”

MHVI is now involved in the pivotal MOMENTUM 3 clinical trials, testing two ventricular assist systems for safety and sustainability as long-term support.

In addition, she is applying for grants to study some of the newest medications available for heart failure.

”I think this is a very exciting time for MHVI,” she says.