Virginia Tech® home

Robert Gourdie, Ph.D., FAHA, AIMBE

Robert Gourdie, Ph.D., FAHA, AIMBE

Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund Eminent Scholar in Heart Reparative Medicine Research
NIH R35 Outstanding Investigator
Director, Center for Vascular and Heart Research

Robert Gourdie, Ph.D. headshot

"We want to find how electrical activation of cardiac muscle works and learn lessons from the heart on how to make drugs to improve wound healing."

Studying cell signaling to protect and preserve heart muscle cells

Can we prevent the spread of cell death after an injury?  

Without oxygen supplied by blood flow, heart cells die — fast. But while a heart attack may only reduce blood and oxygen to an isolated section of heart cells — causing what’s called hypoxic ischemic injury — those dying cells send signals to their neighbors. Scientists sometimes call this spread of injury signals to nearby healthy tissues a “bystander effect.” But what if there were a way to keep the injury localized to the group of cells that are directly affected by the hypoxic ischemic injury, while allowing the nearby heart muscle cells to remain intact?

Dr. Robert Gourdie studies the subunit proteins, called connexins, that are located in the communication channels, or gap junctions, that connect heart muscle cells. 

His laboratory researches how these proteins are involved in electrical excitation, and explores new concepts related to ephaptic coupling. The Gourdie lab also studies how connexin hemichannels are involved in regulating the spread of injury following a heart attack, stroke, or traumatic brain injury. The lab also tests new compounds targeting connexin channels for therapeutic use in wound healing, reducing scarring following breast reconstruction surgery, preventing injury, and applications in treating glioblastomas and drug-resistant cancers. 

Dr. Gourdie has a number of patents and patents pending on drugs developed by the laboratory. One of the lab’s drugs, which halves the healing time of venous leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers, has been licensed to a biotech company and has completed Phase II clinical testing involving more than 250 patients. The FDA has approved pivotal Phase III clinical trials.

  • Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund Eminent Scholar in Heart and Reparative Medicine Research, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC
  • NIH R35 Outstanding Investigator
  • Director, Center for Vascular and Heart Research
  • Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, College of Engineering
  • Professor, Departments of Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine, School of Medicine

T Mikawa, RG Gourdie. Pericardial mesoderm generates a population of coronary smooth muscle cells migrating into the heart along with ingrowth of the epicardial organ
 Developmental biology 174 (2), 221-232, 1996

AW Hunter, RJ Barker, C Zhu, RG Gourdie. Zonula occludens-1 alters connexin43 gap junction size and organization by influencing channel accretion. Molecular biology of the cell 16 (12), 5686-5698, 2005

Rengasayee Veeraraghavan, Gregory S Hoeker, Anita Alvarez-Laviada, Daniel Hoagland, Xiaoping Wan, D Ryan King, Jose Sanchez-Alonso, Chunling Chen, Jane Jourdan, Lori L Isom, Isabelle Deschenes, James W Smyth, Julia Gorelik, Steven Poelzing, Robert G Gourdie. The adhesion function of the sodium channel beta subunit (β1) contributes to cardiac action potential propagation. Elife 7, e37610, 2018

  • Medical University of South Carolina 
    Professor, Regenerative Medicine and CBA
    Board of Trustees' Eminent Scholar of Regenerative Medicine
    Co-Director, Cardiovascular Developmental Biology Center

  • Clemson University 
    Adjunct Professor, Bioengineering
  • University College London: Postdoctoral fellowship, Developmental Biology and Anatomy
  • University of Auckland: M.Sc. Cell and Molecular Biology (1st class honors)
  • University of Canterbury: Ph.D., Biophysics
  • Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund Scholar, (2012 - Present)
  • Chair, American Heart Association Regenerative Cell Biology review panel (2010 - 2017)
  • Charter member, NIH ESTA Study Section (2004-2009)
  • National Institutes of Health CSR College of Reviewers (2010 - Present) 
  • MUSC Board of Trustees’ Eminent Scholar, 2008–2012
  • Prizewinner, Charleston Business Journal Innovator, 2006
  • National Science Foundation Early Career Scholar, 1998
  • Developing Scholar Award, MUSC Health Sciences Foundation, 1997
  • Basil O’Connor Scholar, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, 1996
  • British Heart Foundation Fellowship; 1992


News about Robert Gourdie, Ph.D.  


Related Videos

Loading player for
Loading player for
Loading player for