2017 George Palade Award
Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
Rengasayee (Sai) Veeraraghavan earned his PhD from the University of Utah’s Department of Bioengineering and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Utah’s Department of Mathematics and at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. He is currently a Research Assistant Professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute investigating the structural underpinnings of the propagation of electrical excitation through the heart in health and in disease. As a postdoctoral trainee, he investigated the functional implications of the spatial organization of proteins and their ultrastructural milieu by combining an array of techniques including single molecule localization microscopy, transmission electron microscopy and whole heart optical voltage mapping. As part of this work, he developed STochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy-based Relative Localization Analysis, a novel approach for high throughput quantitative assessment of the spatial organization of proteins from single molecule localization data. Using this approach, he has identified a sodium channel-rich nanodomain within the cardiomyocyte intercalated disk and its involvement in non-canonical mechanisms of electrical communication between cardiomyocytes. These findings could prompt a paradigm shift in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying cardiac excitation spread and provide the basis for the development of novel anti-arrhythmic therapies. In ongoing research, he is investigating the role of vascular dysfunction in dysregulating intercalated disk nanodomains and the contribution of these effects to the genesis and progression of atrial fibrillation.