Health Sciences Research
Two researchers, one heart
How does one describe the amazing machine that is the human heart? What’s the most appropriate adjective to use? On a gray afternoon this winter, in the airy offices of the Center for Translational Research and Education (CTRE) on Loyola’s Health Sciences Campus, Seth Robia, PhD, and Jonathan Kirk, PhD—professors in Loyola’s department of Cell and Molecular Physiology—batted around some ideas. A month prior, Robia had been named the St. Albert’s Day Senior Scientist of the Year and Kirk named the St. Albert’s Day Junior Scientist of the Year for their research into the mechanics of the heart. Each has made it his professional mission to understand exactly how the organ runs and how to ensure that it keeps running for as many people as possible.
“The heart never gets a chance to rest,” Robia said. “It’s beating 70 beats per minute, every minute.”
From across the desk, Kirk jumped in: “And from an energetic standpoint, a person only ever has enough energy to last three beats or so. Then it’s gone. You’re basically operating on the edge for the entirety of your life.”