An interdisciplinary team of researchers developed a tiny pacemaker for unborn babies with a fatal heart problem called fetal heart block. Fetal heart block is a condition that causes an extremely slow heart rate, which may not be adequate to sustain the circulation. Babies with this condition normally don’t survive in the womb. The new pacemaker could save their lives.

With support and funds from the SC CTSI and the USC Coulter Translational Research Partnership program, Ramen Chmait, MD, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics and surgery, Keck School of Medicine of USC; Yaniv Bar-Cohen, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine of USC and director of cardiac rhythm devices, CHLA; and Gerald Loeb, MD, professor of biomedical engineering, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, were able to develop a functional prototype of a tiny implantable pacemaker and demonstrate that it works in sheep fetuses. A large grant from the National of Institutes of Health (NIH) supported further development and with a humanitarian exemption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the life-saving device is now ready for use in humans.

The funding from the SC CTSI was critical for us to move our research forward.

Yaniv Bar-Cohen, MD – Associate professor of pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine of USC; director of cardiac rhythm devices, CHLA

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.