Genetic researcher Deepak Srivastava is hoping his major defining moment will come soon.
He is in a hurry to find new treatments for children suffering from the rarest of congenital heart diseases. And he gets heartbreaking reminders of the urgency of his work as he makes his rounds at San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital.
“I take care of patients who sometimes don’t have a lot of options,” he said after a long, busy day of seeing patients. “Kids still suffer and they’re coming back in for more and more surgeries. There’s a sense of urgency in finding a better way.”
At the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Srivastava leads genetic studies to find out what causes heart defects and how to prevent or repair them. He said research support from the American Heart Association played a critical role in his development and has led to new approaches for regenerating heart muscle.
“Those funds from the American Heart Association allowed me to do creative research that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible,” said Dr. Srivastava, who’s now volunteer president of the association’s San Francisco chapter.
Even though much of his work involves patients born with heart problems, Dr. Srivastava’s message is that prevention is for everyone.
He notes that Life’s Simple 7, while made up of health factors and behaviors we’ve long known about, actually give people a clear road map to getting healthier.
“Even for people with existing conditions, healthy lifestyle choices are key for a healthier future,” he said. “For example, for someone with diabetes, controlling blood sugar
can reduce your risk significantly.”