Colorado Researcher Wins Award for Work Leading to Early Detection of Rejection in Transplant Recipients

Published 12 June 2019
  • Advanced Heart Failure & Transplantation
  • Grant Recipient
  • Pediatrics
  • Press Release
  • Research Grant

Shelley Miyamoto, MD, honored with ISHLT/Enduring Hearts Transplant Longevity Award
Headshot of Shelley Miyamoto

ADDISON, TX – 12 June, 2019 – Shelley Miyamoto, MD, of Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colorado, has been awarded the ISHLT/Enduring Hearts Transplant Longevity Award for her work looking at the early diagnosis of a common cause of post-transplant morbidity.

Logo for Enduring HeartsThis bi-annual award, fully funded by the nonprofit Enduring Hearts, offers researchers significant financial resources for work that furthers the scientific understanding of the determinants of transplanted heart longevity and thereby improve the quality and duration of life. Enduring Hearts is an organization dedicated to curating research into pediatric heart transplants and end-stage heart failure. The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation is comprised of nearly 4,000 medical professionals focused on end-stage heart and lung disease.

Acute graft rejection, which results from the patient’s immune system attacking the transplanted heart, is a leading cause of death among pediatric heart transplant recipients. What’s more, pediatric recipients who require treatment for rejection have lower survival rates and are at risk for developing graft failure, which may result in the need for a second heart transplant. Diagnosing rejection is currently limited to an invasive procedure, a biopsy of the heart muscle (endomyocardial biopsy), that has associated risks.

Miyamoto’s work examines whether through a simple blood draw, circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) can be used as a biomarker of acute graft rejection in pediatric heart transplant patients. The goal of this study is to see if this blood test could result in earlier detection of rejection and possibly fewer heart biopsy procedures in children. In addition, the work looks at whether circulating miRNAs will distinguish the 2 different types of rejection- cellular vs antibody mediated rejection.

“We’re hoping our work leads to a simpler solution to a very complex and common problem for heart transplant recipients, particularly pediatric patients,” said Miyamoto.

Miyamoto, and her colleague at the University of Colorado, Carmen Sucharov, M.D., are collaborating with Dr. Steven Weber (Vanderbilt University) to use banked serum samples that were previously collected from a well-characterized pediatric heart transplant patient population. The research could lead to a simpler, lower risk way to identify rejection in pediatric patients.

About ISHLT 
The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation is a not-for-profit, multidisciplinary professional organization dedicated to improving the care of patients with advanced heart or lung disease through transplantation, mechanical support and innovative therapies. With more than 3,800 members in more than 45 countries, ISHLT is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the research, education and advocacy of end-stage heart and lung disease. ISHLT members represent more than 15 different professional disciplines. For more information, visit

About Enduring Hearts
Since inception in 2014, Enduring Hearts has funded approximately $4 million in research grants aimed at helping children with end-stage heart failure not only live longer lives, but also improve the quality of life for transplant recipients. Enduring Hearts partners with top research institutions across North America seeking out the most innovative and promising research to unlock the key to transplant longevity and improved quality of life for children with heart transplants.

Additionally, Enduring Hearts’ Road to Recovery Gas Card Program, offered at transplant centers across the US, helps to mitigate the high cost of travel for pediatric heart transplant families while their child is being cared for at a hospital. Families enrolled in this program are eligible for up to one year of free gas cards. In addition to providing the gas cards, Enduring Hearts supplies these families with research updates in layman’s terms to help them understand current and emerging transplant trends.