HLHS Cause to Cure

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome Program from Mayo Clinic

Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) is a collaborative network of specialists bonded by the vision of delaying or preventing heart failure for individuals affected by congenital heart defects including HLHS. As pioneering surgery and evolving medical practices have dramatically changed the outlook for children with HLHS in the past two decades, many young adults have now successfully overcome the challenges of reconstructive heart surgeries. The emerging obstacles now drive our Mayo Clinic team with a new focus and purpose to transform treatment options. At Mayo, we have recruited a specialized team to address basic questions of congenital heart disease with the goal of unlocking the potential of emerging technologies from clinical imaging to molecular genetics to regenerative applications. With the right team focused on the right questions, we have come to expect the unexpected and strive to transform idealism into practice.



We are currently studying three important HLHS topic areas.

  1. Imaging: What are the predictors of right ventricular failure, and how do we anticipate the needs of our patients who may develop heart failure? We utilize patient echocardiograms and MRIs to provide us with a better understanding of how to measure right ventricle function and better predict deteriorating ventricular function. We use novel technologies to answer these questions.
  2. Genetics: What is the genetic cause of this congenital heart defect, and how do we apply this knowledge to utilize the most effective treatments for individuals from traditional drug therapy to innovative cell-based treatments? Patient genetic samples will help us determine the cause(s) and predict the outcome of HLHS.
  3. Stem Cell: What is the stem cell-based strategy that will be optimal for cardiac repair in this congenital heart disease, and how do we establish protocols that lead to the most practical, safe, and effective experimental treatments required to launch clinical trials?  Patient skin samples create a disease-in-a-dish that help us to test different therapeutic options as well as learn more about cardiac development. Our goal is to accelerate our discoveries and focus on the planning of clinical trials using these strategies.

Our team-based program is unique in that it encompasses clinical, research, and educational components that are necessary to meet the complex needs of our patients.  Our unparalleled focus on HLHS provides us with a constant reminder of what we do and why we do it.  


HLHS Team Members

We are a multidisciplinary research team devoted to finding better solutions for individuals affected by HLHS. Our team includes physicians, scientists, study coordinators, project managers, laboratory personnel, and administrative partners. Led by Dr. Timothy Nelson, a physician/scientist in the Transplant Center with a passion for stem cell-based applications. Other programmatic leadership includes Dr. Timothy Olson, a pediatric cardiologist with a strong track-record in the genetics of heart disease, Dr. Patrick O’Leary, a pediatric cardiologist who specializes in cardiac imaging of congenital heart disease, and Dr. Andre Terzic, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine who has pioneered clinical applications for stem cells in cardiac repair. Collectively, our goal is to determine the genetic cause of HLHS, predict lifetime function of the right ventricle, and develop a regenerative solution to keep the right ventricle healthy throughout life.


Mayo HLHS team

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