Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, the race toward the next era of patient care — genomic medicine — was on. 

However, advances in being able to treat patients based on their genetic information have also reshaped the training needed for nearly three million nurses in the U.S., who now require deeper working knowledge of cardiovascular genetics and cutting-edge diagnostic technology, in addition to the traditional medical skills they routinely apply on the hospital floor.

NJIT Albert Dorman Honors College undergraduate, Amir Elzomor, is addressing that critical knowledge gap as co-author of a new guide on the subject of cardiovascular genomics that is already receiving accolades. 

The paper, published in the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses journal Advanced Critical Care, is receiving acclaim for “enhancing genomic literacy” among medical professionals and general audiences alike — offering an updated educational review of the genetics involved in heart function and disease, as well as modern methods for discerning and diagnosing complicated cardiomyopathy diseases.

“I think what makes this article so unique and in high-demand right now is that it is written very simply and can be understood by the average premedical, nursing, medical student and any non-expert in the field,” said Elzomor, a junior neurobiology pre-med student at NJIT.  “The article is very encompassing but at the same time very simple.”

Elzomor’s work was recently awarded at NJIT’s 2018 Dana Knox Student Research Showcase and is scheduled to be the featured presentation opening the National Teaching Institute (NTI) conference of American Critical Care Nursing (ACCN) in Boston this spring. 

NJIT Provost and Senior Executive Vice President Fadi P. Deek awards Elzomor for his work at the 2018 Dana Knox Student Research Showcase.

“It was really emphasized to us that our article touched on something that was extremely needed in the cardiology nursing community, and [the NTI] has expressed interest in using it as a template to produce more articles like it,” said Elzomor. “The most rewarding aspect is that this article was able to reach so many different people and has the potential to affect so many people’s lives in a positive manner.”

Elzomor’s work stems fromacademic study at NJIT and cardiac electrophysiology research he conducted as part of an internship alongside co-author Dr. Kathleen Hickey at Columbia University Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital. 

Elzomor says he gained an early appreciation for the human heart’s deceptively simple form and function in his education of the cardiovascular system, inspiring a uniquely simple guide to the intricate world of cardiovascular genomics.

“Early on in my research, I quickly realized that I absolutely loved the heart,” said Elzomor. “It is so simple yet complex at the same time.”

Along with a distilled breakdown of gene networks associated with the heart, Elzomor’s article details how to diagnose and treat complex, life-threatening cardiac diseases based on certain genetic factors. Specifically, it reviews methods for identifying and treating patients with Brugada Syndrome, Long QT Syndrome, Short QT Syndrome, Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia, and Arrhythmogenic Ventricular Dysplasia.

“We hear a lot about major diseases like diabetes, but many people who suffer from the complex cardiovascular diseases that we mention in this article do not have an ample amount of research published on their conditions,” said Elzomor. “We are reaching out to so many different nurses and cardiology treatment team members to help them understand the genetic features underlying these difficult diseases.”

Now, Elzomor is back to work on his next project. He is currently involved in a 50-patient study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test and improve the Alivecor Kardiamobile device, an electrocardiogram device that scans patient fingerprint pulses in order to send EKG readings to physicians via phone app.

“The NIH is interested in our study to see if it can be used to allow patients to receive treatment earlier and more easily communicate symptoms like heart palpitations, dizziness or shortness of breath to their physicians,” said Elzomor. 

“Once this study is completed, I want to publish more work that covers other diseases and even outline how to help patients and family members after diagnosis. NJIT has really pushed me to apply knowledge I gain and go beyond, so I will continue to take those values I’ve been instilled with and further my research.”