Campbell Muscle Lab Gives Back to Heart Failure Patients

Every day throughout 2015, University of Kentucky physiologist Ken Campbell laced up his running shoes and took off for a 5-kilometer run, regardless of his schedule, plans or location.

Regular running routes were plotted through his neighborhood and around the university’s campus. When traveling on business, he explored new territories and scenery on his runs. He also logged many miles running next to students on treadmills at the Johnson Center. Nothing stopped Campbell from completing a "5K a day." 

Once ambivalent toward running, Campbell learned to embrace a daily jog as part of his personal commitment to cardiovascular health. In his laboratory work in the UK College of Medicine, the associate professor also confronts the detriments of cardiac failure on a daily basis. His laboratory group, the Campbell Muscle Lab, examines the causes of cardiac failure at the molecular and cellular level. They collaborate with surgeons, cardiologists, nurses and clinical coordinators at UK HealthCare to obtain tissue samples from patients who are receiving cardiac transplants or ventricular assist devices (VAD). Their work strives to bridge the gap between physiological research and clinical treatment so that they can help patients, including a large number of Kentuckians who suffer from heart failure.

“My lab focuses on cell level therapies for heart failure. One of the things that makes us a bit different from some science labs is that we work closely with clinicians,” Campbell said. “We get samples of heart from people who are getting heart transplants and ventricular assist devices.”

Knowing patients sacrifice a piece of their self when they agree to donate heart tissue to research, Campbell and his lab group wanted to show their appreciation by raising funds that will help to support these patients. Campbell was already running for cardiovascular health, so he and his lab group coordinated a campaign built around Campbell’s daily commitment to cardiovascular exercise.

“It’s a pretty hard thing to donate a piece of your heart,” Campbell said. “So my lab group wants to give something back. We also know that little things, like gas cards to help patients travel to UK for their appointments, can make a big difference.”

Throughout the month of December, the lab group is joining Campbell on his daily runs, or committing 25 minutes per day to cardiovascular exercise, to raise funds for cardiac failure patients and undergraduate research, and spread awareness of the impact of cardiovascular disease in Kentucky. Their campaign continues throughout the month of December, and will split any funds that are raised between research efforts and the support groups for patients at UK HealthCare who have advanced heart failure. Donations will support gas cards, medical alert bracelets, and art therapy services for cardiac failure patients, as well as lab equipment and undergraduate research opportunities.

The University of Kentucky community is encouraged to join the Campbell Lab Cardiac Challenge during the month of December and to make a donation to support research and to help patients who make research advancement possible.

For more information about the Campbell Lab Cardiac Challenge, click here. To donate directly to the campaign, click here.


MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,