Robert Gourdie, PhD
Professor, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund Eminent Scholar in Heart Regenerative Medicine Research, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
Director, Center for Heart and Regenerative Medicine Research, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
Professor, Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences
Professor of Emergency Medicine, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
Director of Emergency Medicine Research, Carilion Clinic
Research Program Summary
The research of the laboratory is on the subunit proteins of gap junctions, which are called connexins. Connexins are the channels that enable direct communication between cells.
Projects in the laboratory include:
- Research on connexins in cardiac electrical excitation spread – including new ideas on how conduction of electrical impulses in the heart occurs via an ephaptic mechanism.
- Studies of how connexin hemichannels are involved in determining injury severity following heart attack, stroke and traumatic brain injury.
- Drug discovery – development and testing of new compounds targeting connexin channels for use in diseases of the heart and brain, wound healing, and cancer.
- Research on how connexins are involved in the development of drug resistance by glioblastoma brain cancer patients being by treated anti-cancer drugs.
- Studies on preventing excessive scarring in breast cancer survivors undergoing breast reconstruction following mastectomy.
We have a number patents granted and patents pending on drugs developed by the laboratory, which include student inventors. One of our drugs has been licensed to a biotech company and completed Phase II clinical testing involving more than 250 patients, halving the healing time of venous leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers. The FDA recently approved pivotal Phase III clinical trials.
The laboratory is currently funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation, and the Center for Innovative Technology.
The laboratory provides a supportive professional environment for training in medical research and is looking to recruit new students this year. We have a strong track record of student peer-reviewed publications, as well as students obtaining their own predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowship grants.
For a full listing of Dr. Gourdie's publications, visit PubMed.
Education and Training
- University College London: Postdoctoral fellowship, Developmental Biology and Anatomy
- University of Auckland: M.S.
- University of Canterbury: Ph.D., Biophysics
- Medical University of South Carolina Professor, Board of Trustees' Eminent Scholar Co-Director, Cardiovascular Developmental Biology Center
- Clemson University Adjunct Professor, Bioengineering
Awards and Honors
- Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund Scholar, beginning 2012
- 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
- Kuczma M, Wang CY, Ignatowicz L, Gourdie RG, Kraj P. (2015). Altered connexin 43 expression underlies age-dependent decrease of regulatory T cell suppressor function in nonobese diabetic mice. Journal of Immunology 194(11), 5261-71.
- Gourdie RG, Dimmeler S, Kohl P. (2015). Novel therapeutic strategies targeting fibroblasts in heart disease. Nature Reviews: Drug Discover.
- Veeraraghavan R, Lin J, Hoeker GS, Keener JP*, Gourdie RG*, Poelzing S*. (2015). Sodium channels in the Cx43 gap junction perinexus may constitute a cardiac ephapse: an experimental and modeling study. Pflugers Archive - European Journal of Physiology.
- Ghatnekar GS, Grek CL, Armstrong DG, Desai SC, Gourdie RG. (2015). The effect of a connexin43-based peptide on the healing of chronic venous leg ulcers: a multi center randomized trial. Journal of Investigative Dermatology (Nature) 135(1), 289-98.
- Rhett JM, Jourdan J, Gourdie RG. (2011). Connexin 43 connexon to gap junction transition is regulated by zonula occludens-1. Molecular Biology of the Cell 22(9), 1516-28.
- O'Quinn MP, Palatinus JA, Harris BS, Hewett KW, Gourdie RG. (2011). A peptide mimetic of the connexin43 carboxyl terminus reduces gap junction remodeling and induced arrhythmia following ventricular injury. Circulation Research 108(6), 704-15.