Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have transformed the therapeutics of oncology. However, we have recently discovered that ICI treatment can induce myocarditis and myositis. In this collaborative project with Dr. Joe-Elie Salem at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, we discovered that thymic alterations are associated with incidence of seriousness of ICI myotoxicities. 

Clinico-radio-biological workup evaluating the thymus may help in predicting ICI myotoxicities. 

Read more about these findings recently published in Nature Medicine Journal here. 

Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is associated with various cardiovascular (CV) complications. We sought to characterize the incidence and risk factors for short-term and long-term CV events in a contemporary cohort of adult HSCT recipients. 

We found that the incidence of short-term CV events in HSCT recipients is relatively low. Long term events were more common among allogenic recipients and those with pre-existing CV comorbidities. 

Read more about these findings here. 

Cantex and Michigan Medicine Announce Initiation of Phase 3 Clinical Trial for Promising Covid-19 Treatment

Cantext Pharmaceuticals and Michigan Medicine Announce initiation of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter, Phase 3 pivitol clincal trial to evaluate the efficacy of Azeliragon in the treatment of patients hospitalized for Covid-19. The initiation of this Phase 3 pivotal clinical trial follows the completion of the Phase 2 portion of the clinical trial. 

Read more about the upcoming trial here

"Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs)-related myocarditis is difficult to manage given its infrequency, non-specific presentation, rapid progression, and high mortality rate. In this review, we discuss the role of blood-based biomarkers in the clinical management of patients with ICI-related myocarditis, including 1) diagnosis, 2) prognosis, 3) screening, and 4) long-term surveillance. 

ICI myocarditis exhibits unique biomarker profiles that can be used to screening for and diagnose ICI myocarditis (Figure 1). Myocardial injury is a defining feature of ICI myocarditis with nearly all patients presenting with elevated cardiac troponins (cTnI and cTnT). Additionally, unique to ICI myocarditis is the persistent elevation of cardiac troponins (particularly cTnT), whereas elevated cardiac troponins due to other forms of myocardial injury (i.e., myocardial infarction) often decline rapidly. Lastly, ICI myocarditis almost always occurs with other immune-related adverse events that can be detected through non-cardiac biomarkers such as CPK, AST, ALT, and LDH. These routinely measured biomarkers often begin to increase 20 days prior to the diagnosis of ICI myocarditis, suggesting that they could be used for monitoring and identifying patients at risk of myocarditis.


Leveraging these unique biomarker features, we devised a screening strategy for ICI-myocarditis, emphasizing the routine of measurement of CPK, AST, and ALT with the addition of cardiac troponins in the presence of increasing non-cardiac biomarkers. While validation is needed, our screening protocol is easily implementable and could drastically improve the early identification of ICI myocarditis, which is crucial to improve clinical outcomes."

September 5, 2023

2023 Lab Summer Party

The Hayek lab annual summer party has become a place where our lab members can gather in fellowship with their coworkers, family members and friends to celebrate all of our accomplishments over the past year.  This year we hosted our summer party at Lillie Park North in Ann Arbor. See attached for a quick look into the fun!

August 4, 2023

Farewell for Now

This week our lab went to Top Golf to send off our lab technician, Kingsley Amadi. Kingsley has been a member of our lab for the past 2 years working on our basic science experiments. Kingsley is headed to Georgetown to pursue a master's in science in Biotechnology. 

Kingsley, you will be missed, we wish you the best!

July 5, 2023

Interested in working with us?

We're hiring!

Dr. Hayek's lab is looking to hire a full-time Research Technician with experience in molecular lab work and animal experimentation. 

More information about the job posting and how to apply can be found here

American Diabetes Association

83rd Annual Scientific Session

This summer, our lab sent our research lab technician, Kingsley Amadi to the 83rd annual Scientific Session hosted by the American Diabetes Association in San Diego, California. 

Kingsley presented a poster on our project where we sought to discover the impact of optimal medical therapy, insulin sensitization and revascularization strategies on suPAR levels and how that might affect patients. 

June 15, 2023

Certified Sustainable Lab

The Office of Campus Sustainability is a program at the University of Michigan that focuses on making workspaces more sustainable and reducing the impact our work may have on the environment. The Hayek Lab received gold distinction as a certified stainable lab

Read more about our certification here

May 9, 2023

Moving Forward

Members of the Hayek Lab: Alina, Nathan and Caroline prepare for the next step in their careers. We will miss them!

Alina Bardwell graduated with a B.S. in Public Health Sciences from the University of Michigan. She plans to continue working in our lab through the summer before moving to Boston, where she hopes to receive her MPH and launch her career in public health. 

Nathan Meyette just completed the University of Michigan Medical School's postbac MEDPREP program. He is preparing to take the MCAT exam and head to medical school soon after!

Caroline Tilley recently graduated from the University of Michigan and will be applying to PA programs this summer. 

March 13, 2023

American College of Cardiology 

World Health Federation


The Hayek Lab sent four team members to this year's ACC Annual Scientific Session, post-doctoral fellow Alexi Vasbinder, Research specialist Feriel Presswalla, Clinical coordinator Tonimarie Catalan, and one of our undergraduate research assistants, Medha Tripathi.

Please take a look at the fantastic research conducted by our group and presented at ACC - 

Feel free to contact the authors for more information on their research.  

We'll be back for more fun next year! 

January 10, 2023

Hayek Lab visits an Escape Room! 

And broke out in 62 minutes!

The lab's students had so much fun visiting an Escape Room in Michigan! The Hayek Lab's undergraduate, graduate, and post-doc students worked together to strategize, utilize diverse opinions, and solve problems, escaping in just 62 minutes! Go team!

October 19, 2022

Hayek Lab cheers on Michigan Football! 

The lab celebrates Michigan's incredible football season with a fun-filled tailgate!

The lab celebrated Michigan's undefeated football season with a tailgate at the Michigan golf course! The team got together to eat delicious food, play games, cheer on Michigan as they beat Nebraska! Everyone got to enjoy each other's company without the pressures of work and a fantastic time was had by all!

The Hayek Lab has a lot to celebrate this season! The retention and hard work of our 5 Research Assistants with independent projects, as well as full-time laboratory personnel Kingsley Amadi and Feriel Presswalla and post-doctoral fellow Anis Ismail! Our team has worked very hard these past few months and we have a lot to show for it! 

The Lab has published multiple new research manuscripts in the past year to journals including The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Cancer Medicine, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, and Intensive Care Medicine.

We look forward to continuing this momentum with the support of each other, as a team!

September 18, 2022

Our most recent paper has just been published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation!

Clinical, genetic, and experimental increase in soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor levels promotes atherosclerosis

This study combined epidemiologic, genetic, and experimental approaches. The primary outcome of interest was suPAR’s involvement in atherosclerosis: specifically, is suPAR causally involved in atherosclerosis?

People with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) are at higher risk of atherosclerosis for unclear reasons. Soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) is an immune-derived mediator of CKD and has an independent association with atherosclerosis. 

Through our cohort study, genetic experimental analyses, and mouse models, we found that chronically elevated suPAR levels promote atherosclerosis. Our results indicated a causal association between suPAR levels and atherosclerotic phenotypes in addition to kidney disease.

These findings place high suPAR levels as a shared risk factor and potential therapeutic target for both cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease.

Read more HERE!

August 2, 2022

Our latest publication can now be found in Cancer Medicine!

Metastatic melanoma of the heart: Retrospective cohort study and systematic review of prevalence, clinical characteristics, and outcomes

Our team collaborated with contributors Alexander Balinksi and Rafey Rehman from Oakland University school of Medicine. We also collaborated with Connor Kerndt from Spectrum Health in partnership with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. ​​


Our own Postdoctoral Research Fellow student Alexi Vasbinder made huge contributions to this study. We would also like to thank our contributors from Michigan Medicine: Raymond Yeow, MD, Monika Leja, MD, Christopher Lao, MD, and Leslie Fecher, MD.


We utilized a retrospective cohort study of all patients with metastatic melanoma who received outpatient care at the U of M Health System from January 2009 to January 2022. We also performed a systematic review of studies on patients with metastatic melanoma. The primary outcomes of interest among patients with cardiac metastasis from melanoma were: patient symptoms and physical exam findings, cardiac metastasis of melanoma locations, and the prevalence and outcomes of treatment strategies.

While rare in patients with metastatic melanoma, cardiac metastasis is associated with high mortality and cardiovascular complications such as arrhythmias, heart failure, and pericardial effusions. Cardiac metastasis can manifest as multiple small tumors, large masses, or infiltrative disease.

Cardiac metastasis from melanoma can be difficult to identify clinically, and is usually diagnosed post-mortem as a result. The most common presenting symptom at the time of diagnosis of cardiac metastasis was shortness of breath (36.4%) and the most common physical exam finding was tachycardia (24.2%). Physicians should maintain suspicion for cardiac metastasis when a patient presents with fatigue, dyspnea, and a history of melanoma.

The most common site of cardiac metastasis was the left ventricle (41.9%), followed by the right atrium (35.5%). Notable echocardiogram findings included right ventricular inflow obstruction (27.6%) and valvular dysfunction (24.1%).

Once diagnosed, the prognosis of cardiac metastasis from melanoma remains poor, with an average survival time of 2 years after diagnosis. However, many therapies, such as immunotherapy, targeted therapy, radiotherapy, and surgery, have been useful in alleviating symptoms and their impact on the heart. Treatment strategies typically involved surgical intervention (66.7%), chemotherapy (39.4%), or chemotherapy with surgical intervention (15.2%). Many patients experienced remission when they received surgery along with other treatments.  Of the 22 cases that reported outcomes, the majority (59.1%) were disease-free without evidence of recurrence.

As many cases in this study predate the most modern and effective immunotherapies and targeted therapies available, it still remains to be determined how modern therapies will impact patient outcomes of cardiac metastasis.



Read more HERE!

July 21, 2022

Hayek Lab Celebrates Another Fantastic Year

Annual Summer Party Kicks off with a pig roast!

In what has become an annual tradition, the lab celebrated another successful year of collaborations and publications at Dr. Hayek's house with family and friends.  The team had time to enjoy each other's company without pressures of work, and a fantastic time was had all around. 

We have much to celebrate this year, including retaining our 4 Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program fellows as Research Assistants through the summer and into next year, all of whom are blossoming into independent researchers.  The hiring of two new full-time laboratory personnel, Kingsley Amadi, and Feriel Presswalla, two study coordinators, Ian Pizzo and Noor Sulaiman (who has decreased to part time work as she began medical school at Wayne State University this summer), and a post-doctoral fellow, Anis Ismail (who officially begins with us next week!)  We've expanded our lab bench space, and doubled our desks to accommodate everyone and their innovative new work. 

The lab has published a dozen new research manuscripts in the past year, to journals including American Journal of Cardiology, American Journal of Medicine, Journal of American Medical Association, Critical Care Medicine, and Diabetes Care, with another half dozen articles accepted for publication just this summer!  

We have received new funding from NIDDK, Ortho Diagnostics, L3 Healthcare, Axteria Biomed, and the Rogel Cancer Center; our new funding has allowed us to begin new projects in the clinical realm as well as the basic science world, and we're excited to continue our bench to bedside approach to research.  

And we're already looking forward to doing it again next year! 

June 28, 2022

Recruiting for COVID19 Diagnostic Test Validation Study 

Anyone with new COVID-like symptoms invited to participate

In collaboration with Axteria Biomed, the Hayek lab study coordinator team is busy recruiting individuals ages 2 and up with new COVID-like symptoms to assess the efficacy of a rapid COVID19 antigen test intended for healthcare provider point-of-care use.  

The assay will only require an anterior nare swab as opposed to the nasopharyngeal swab required for the current standard of care diagnostic test, and will provide results at a much more rapid pace.  

While participants must come to our study site within a week of symptom onset, and while sick, they are compensated for their participation.  

Find more information and see if you're eligible to participate on the COVID TEST STUDY website

June 13, 2022

Jerome W. Conn Award for Excellence in Research 

Awarded to Dr. Hayek by Michigan Medicine's Department of Internal Medicine! 

As stated by the Internal Medicine Department Chair, Dr. John Carethers, C. Richard Boland Distinguished University Professor, John G. Searle Professor and Chair - Department of Internal Medicine, and Professor of Human Genetics - 

"The Jerome W. Conn Award for Excellence in Research is given to a physician scientist at the rank of Assistant Professor who embodies the spirit of Dr. Conn by demonstrating curiosity and scholarship that significantly contributes to the advancement of knowledge and discovery. Dr. Conn graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1932. Among his many scientific contributions, he studied the physiology and pathophysiology of the pituitary-adrenal system and renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, ultimately leading to his description of primary aldosteronism (later named Conn Syndrome). Dr. Conn remained at the University of Michigan throughout his illustrious career, serving as Chief for the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism from 1943 until his retirement in 1973. 

"This year's Conn Awardee is Salim Hayek, MD from the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.  Dr. Hayek received his MD from the American University of Beirut, completed his internal medicine residency and fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at Emory. His scholarly studies are focused on the use of biomarkers and high-throughput technologies to understand pathways of disease, identify patients at risk, and personalize therapy. Specifically, he produced compelling evidence that the soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR), a signaling glycoprotein produced by activated immune cells, is an immune-mediated pathogenic factor and molecular link between inflammation and kidney injury. His seminal work was published in the New England Journal Medicine and demonstrated that high suPAR level was the strongest predictor of non-FSGS chronic kidney disease. 

"His findings have since been replicated in various populations, across age groups, gender, race, and clinical settings. In another breakthrough, Dr. Hayek’ findings have cracked the opaque window into understanding why individuals of African descent are more susceptible to renal failure than those of European or other ancestry by revealing that that APOL1 – a genetic risk factor for kidney disease in Blacks with a previously unknown mechanism – is dependent on suPAR to cause kidney dysfunction, which he published in Nature Medicine. 

"In innovative bedside-to-bench-to-bedside studies, Dr Hayek demonstrated that transgenic mice over-expressing suPAR were more susceptible to acute kidney injury and corroborated these findings in human studies that showed that patients who had high suPAR levels were at risk for acute kidney injury after a procedure, or if they were critically ill, and resulted in another New England Journal of Medicine publication. 

"Serendipitously, his findings were timely, as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the impact the immune system can have on organ damage- including kidney injury, a major morbid/mortal complication of COVID disease. In a true-team approach Dr Hayek has established the Michigan Medicine COVID-19 Cohort (M2C2) – a very large clinical & biospecimen repository at Michigan that prospectively and systematically collected blood samples, granular clinical data and outcomes in all patients presenting to the University of Michigan with COVID-19, that engaged a strong team of collaborators at Michigan, nationwide and internationally, and had already resulted in multiple high-impact publications and R01NIH funding. 

"Dr. Hayek has published nearly 150  manuscripts, is supported by two NIH R01s as PI, and holds 3 patents. He was the recipient of the American College of Cardiology Douglas P. Zipes Distinguished Young Scientist Award and the American Heart Association Samuel Levine Early Career Investigator Award. He was awarded a named endowment by our Department of Internal Medicine – the Juanita L. Merchant Junior Faculty Early Career Endowment Award – recognizing his accomplishments and potential for future impact."

Additional congratulations to the other Conn Awardee for the year, Renuka Tipirneni, MD, MSc. 

April 22, 2022

A big JOB WELL DONE to our 2021-2022 undergraduate research students for their year of work and their posters and presentations this week.  

We've enjoyed working with our undergraduate mentees through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, and are delighted to have a few returning to work with us through the summer and next fall as Research Assistants.  Mentoring a diverse group of individuals towards future physicians and scientists is an incredibly gratifying and valuable endeavor.  Take a look at the outcomes of their research projects below. 

Postdoctoral Research Fellow Alexi Vasbinder and team drew from a diverse cohort of individuals included in the International Study of Inflammation in COVID-19 (ISIC) to understand the effect of Diabetes Mellitus on primary COVID-19 outcomes through mechanisms of inflammation and hyperglycemia.

The primary outcome of interest among patients with DM was the composite of in-hospital death, need for mechanical ventilation, and renal replacement therapy

33.5% of participants were characterized to have DM (n = 686). Compared to patients without DM, these participants had a higher incidence of the primary outcome and higher levels of inflammatory biomarkers, namely suPAR

This study found that suPAR levels accounted for most of the associated risk between diabetes and COVID-19 outcomes. Through mechanisms of hyperinflammation, suPAR mediated 84.2% of the primary COVID-19 outcome in patients with DM. 

 “Association between DM and outcomes in COVID-19 is largely mediated by hyperinflammation as assessed by suPAR levels, while the impact of hyperglycemia is independent of inflammation”


December 16, 2021

Drug treatment for COVID-19 requires an understanding of its viral mechanisms and interactions with the human host. The SARS-CoV-2 viral S protein binds to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor for entry into the host cell, and viral activation of the ACE2 receptor initiates the pro-inflammatory renin-angiotensin system (RAS) cascade uncontrollably, causing damage to the body. ACE inhibitors (ACEi) and angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) drugs serve to target this mechanism and have been used previously for treatment of hypertension and heart failure. 

Dr. Michael Pan explores the effects of this class of drugs on COVID-19 patients in his newly published paper:

This study is the first of its kind to incorporate highly specific data from patients enrolled in the International Study of Inflammation in COVID-19 (ISIC) and the Michigan Medicine Covid-19 Cohort (M2C2) study. Patients on ACEi/ARB were older and had significant comorbidities like diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, and coronary artery disease as compared to the non-ACEi/ARB patient group. While previous studies analyzing the effects of ACEi/ARB drugs have focused specifically on hypertensive patients, this study saw improved outcomes across all patient subgroups.

The in-hospital treatment group was also found to have lower levels of suPAR and C-reactive protein, lower in-hospital mortality, and lower incidence of need for mechanical ventilation and dialysis compared to patients who did not receive drug treatment.

Potential benefits of ACE/ARB use among COVID-19 patients include an attenuated inflammatory response and lung protective mechanisms as supported by the evidence in this study.

Click HERE to read more!

December 9, 2021

Over the past year and a half, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected populations. Respectively, Black patients have experienced a much higher burden of disease as compared to other racial minority groups. Dr. Tariq Azam analyzes the potential drivers of these disparities among patients enrolled in the Michigan Medicine COVID-19 Cohort (M2C2) study in his newly published paper:

“Differences in inflammation, treatment and outcomes between Black and non-Black patients hospitalized for COVID-19: a prospective cohort study.”

This work focused on characterizing the clinical detail of patients and analyzing its impact on observed disparities. The research team compared differences in inflammatory biomarker measurements, directed therapies, trial enrollments, comorbidities, and specific clinical outcomes. Most significantly, this study found differences in the prevalence of risk factors of patients and the treatment they received.

On average, Black patients hospitalized for COVID-19 were younger, had higher BMI, and disproportionately suffered from conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease as compared to non-Black patients. Despite a higher prevalence of these comorbidities and risk factors, Black patients were less likely to enroll in clinical trials and less likely to receive FDA approved COVID-19 therapeutic treatments like remdesivir, corticosteroids, and convalescent serum.

“A complex interplay between social determinants of health and associated comorbidity burden has been posited as the basis for the observed disparities in COVID-19 infection rate” 

Azam attributes these differences in patient treatment as a result of racially biased healthcare. Underlying levels of inflammation and the presence of risk factors play a role in the severity of disease, and the data in this study suggests that differential treatment can further exacerbate patients’ clinical outcomes. Historical precedence of inadequate care additionally contributes to the reluctance of patient enrollment in clinical trials. The racial disparities and worse outcomes of Black patients in this study are impacted by preexisting inflammation and suboptimal treatment, and Azam reckons for a reevaluation of our health institutions and systems. 

Click HERE to read more! 

November 30, 2021

Our postdoctoral research fellow Alexi Vasbinder has been working closely to investigate the relationships between inflammation, hyperglycemia and adverse outcomes among patients with Diabetes Mellitus (DM) hospitalized for COVID-19. This study draws from a diverse cohort of individuals included in the International Study of Inflammation in COVID-19 (ISIC) and its largest sub-cohort, the Michigan Medicine Covid-19 Cohort (M2C2)

Analysis of collected data found patients with DM to be older, more likely to be Black, obese, and have a greater burden of comorbidities such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, and heart failure.

Additionally, these patients were found to have higher levels of biomarkers upon admission, including suPAR, CRP, procalcitonin, and D-dimer. Of these, the team identified suPAR to be the most important risk factor. As the only independently associated biomarker associated with diabetes, suPAR mediated 84.2% of composite outcomes of diabetes through inflammatory mechanisms, while worse outcomes were associated with hyperglycemia and higher insulin requirements during hospitalization. Other important risk factors include BMI, admission glucose levels, and age.

October 28, 2021

The Hayek Lab is ecstatic about our latest piece of equipment from Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, the Vitros 3600

... and we're excited to unpack how it works....

This immunodiagnostic system will measure the inflammatory biomarker levels in patients hospitalized for COVID-19. Identification of certain biomarkers will help analyze the risk of different secondary events beyond initial infection. 

September 15, 2021

Kingsley Amadi, a current junior at Michigan State University, joined the Hayek Lab this summer as a laboratory assistant developing ongoing research efforts related to suPAR and the management of multi-vessel coronary artery disease. Patients with this disease generally undergo coronary artery bypass grant (CABG) surgery, yet many of those who do not require a full surgery prefer a less invasive procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Ultimately, this research aims to develop a method in determining whether a patient requires the CABG surgery or the stent procedure. 

To work towards this goal, Kingsley’s project focused on understanding the role of suPAR levels as one of the markers of multi-vessel coronary artery disease and deriving appropriate cut-off levels that affect this clinical treatment direction. For this project, the Hayek Lab used samples from BARI-2D, a clinical trial for patients with type 2 diabetes with some cardiac symptoms. 

In the lab, Kingsley worked with fellow lab members Chris Launius, Iman Shaikh, and Annika Tekumulla. On a day to day basis, Kingsley tended to the mouse colonies and performed various assays to measure suPAR, 8-isoprostanes, and mouse atherosclerosis biomarkers. Concentration levels of these biomarkers were updated into data sample software Freezerworks and standardized through Softmax Pro computer analysis. 

Though the Hayek Lab continues to gather these results, current data has demonstrated suPAR levels ranging from 3 to 6 mg/mL and higher within patients with multi-vessel coronary artery disease, an indication of inflammation. Kingsley remains optimistic about the promising role suPAR plays in disease management and tracking, and the Hayek Lab appreciates his efforts. 

Kingsley is now back in East Lansing for the fall semester, and we wish him the best of luck! 

September 1, 2021

Over the past year and a half, the Hayek Lab has developed the Michigan Medicine COVID-19 Cohort (M2C2) study consisting of all adult patients hospitalized primarily for COVID-19 at the University of Michigan. 

This comprehensive resource has collected biological samples from a large population of patients over the course of their hospitalization. 

We Have News!

We are eager to share this expansive dataset with interested collaborators!

Access M2C2 data and samples today through a simple ancillary proposal process.

Contact Salim Hayek or Pennelope Kunkle for more information.

Read more about the study below!

Visit REDCap to learn more about the database software.

August 13, 2021

Iman Shaikh, our Undergraduate Fellow, recently completed her summer research with the Hayek Lab through the FCVC-SURF program with her symposium presentation: 

Click HERE to view Iman's SURF Presentation. Her talk begins at 2:34:18.

The Hayek Lab received serum samples from the PERL trial at Harvard University. This trial looked at patients with T1DM who had elevated levels of Serum Uric Acid (SUA). SUA is associated with diabetic nephropathy (DN). The suPAR levels of the received samples from the PERL trial were quantified using ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and ViroGates suPARnostic kits. While typical suPAR levels in individuals are generally less than 3 ng/mL, Iman’s study found elevated suPAR levels in patients with T1DM ranging from 3.01 ng/mL to 9.95 ng/mL. This indicates a correlation between suPAR levels and the progression of illness in patients with T1DM.

Iman worked with fellow team members Chris Lanius, Kingsley Amadi, and Annika Tekumulla to perform ELISA assays and analyze the characteristics and adverse CV events of trial participants by their resulting suPAR values.

In her general study of suPAR, she discovered the significance of this biomarker in a myriad of patient illnesses. Levels of this protein are very elevated and present for people who have most every dangerous CV disease, kidney disease, cancer, and COVID-19. This ubiquity suggests the critical role of suPAR in predicting diseases. As a future medical professional, Iman urgently hopes that suPAR levels are regularly checked during routine blood tests. 

In comparison to her other research experiences, Iman enjoyed the immediate clinical applicability of this project. 

“It seems like it’s happening really quickly, and it’s just really exciting to me!”

This fall, Iman will be a senior at UCLA studying Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics with plans to go to medical school. Searching for a valuable research experience this summer, Iman was grateful for the opportunity to live in Ann Arbor for a few months amid the pandemic. She extends her appreciation to the program coordinators of FCVC-SURF and to the entire lab for their willingness to help and mentorship. Apart from her work in the lab, she spent this summer hanging out with other FCVC Fellows from the program, exploring Ann Arbor, and studying for the MCAT. 

July 28, 2021

Rising sophomore Annika Tekumulla spent the past year doing virtual clinical research with the Hayek Lab through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Despite the remote nature of her work, Annika collaborated closely with Dr. Salim Hayek, Penney Kunkle and, Elizabeth Anderson on her project:

Through their work, they discovered a 9.1% VTE prevalence among the 1065 adult COVID-19 patient population at Michigan Medicine, of which 72% of patients with VTE were men. VTE was found to be associated with worse outcomes among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Most notably, they identified D-dimer, C-reactive protein (CRP), and Ferritin as three key biomarkers associated with VTE independently of age, BMI, sex, race, and chronic kidney disease (CKD). All three are significant predictors of future VTE status and are markers of tissue destruction!

In addition to her presentation at the UROP Symposium, Annika had the opportunity to present her research to the Internal Medicine department at Michigan Medicine. Through her UROP experience and continued in-lab summer research with suPAR, Annika has realized a new found interest in inflammatory biomarkers, and she hopes to build on her scientific knowledge and analytical skills in the fall. 

July 15, 2021

The Hayek Lab is co-investigating kidney related risk factors associated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus through the ongoing KIDCOV study. This study seeks to better understand how COVID-19 affects long-term health of the kidneys and develop preventative measures to minimize any damage. Periodic urine samples will be collected and examined by the lab to compare the kidney health of participants who have received either a positive or negative COVID-19 test result.  

The Sarwal group has selected a number of key biomarkers present in urine samples that reflect levels of kidney injury: cell-free DNA (cfDNA, marker of total apoptotic burden), methylated cfDNA (mcfDNA, marker of renal parenchymal injury), clusterin (marker of tubular injury), CXCL10 (marker of renal inflammation), protein (a late marker of glomerular injury), and creatinine (marker of hydration and diurnal variation).

Upon collection, the lab will carry out Kidney Injury Test (KIT) assays on the samples to identify the presence of these biomarkers and assign KIT scores to accurately quantify any kidney damage among voluntary participants.

We are looking for patients at Michigan Medicine to participate in our ongoing research efforts

Involvement is as minimal as three at-home sample collections and one health survey over the course of the 12-month study period.



May 23, 2021

We'd like to extend our warmest welcome to our new Laboratory Assistant, Kingsley Amadi, who began work for the summer just after completing his Sophomore year at Michigan State University. Kingsley has already thrown himself head first into lab work and we have no doubt how much we will appreciate his time and efforts the next several months! 

We'd also like to welcome our newest Research Assistant, ToniMarie Catalan - Toni graduated from University of Michigan last year, in the midst of the pandemic, and has jumped into Clinical Research as a Study Coordinator in Cardiology. We're extremely grateful for her addition to our COVID19 patient data collection and look forward to her expansion into her own projects  in the future. 

Check out their profiles on our Team page!

Our school year Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program student, Annika Tekumulla, finished out her year with a remote project and fantastic presentation on vascular thromboembolism in COVID19.  We're all very proud of her research progress!

Annika felt strongly enough about her positive experience  to nominate her main mentor, Penney Kunkle, for the UROP Mentor Award.  Excellent work to both Annika and Penney! 

We're excited to have Annika join us in the lab for the summer months as well. 

April 7, 2021

Congratulations to  our Project Manager/Research Coordinator/Laboratory Manager, Penney, on being selected as a recipient of the Staff Award for Excellence for the Department of Internal Medicine. This year, as with all things 2021 so far, recipients will have the joy of celebrating via Zoom.  

We're HIRING!  We're looking for a Full-Time, Temporary Laboratory Assistant with experience in basic lab skills, clerical organization, and database use. This individual will assist with our numerous fast-paced projects, including processing and assaying human and animal specimen. 

Please apply ASAP: ttps://careers.umich.edu/job_detail/196616/laboratory_asst_temp 

With our first clinical trial slowly emerging from the administration phase into the active trial phase, the lab will soon be expanding further, with the hiring of a Research Nurse and a Research Technician. Keep an eye on this space for the postings! 

March 1, 2021

We participated in February's heart month in various ways, including Dr. Hayek's interview with the NeuroNetwork on the link between Heart and Brain health and one of our recent publications, COVID-19 and Diabetes: A Collision and Collusion of Two Diseases, which can be found on the NeuroNet website or YouTube.  

Our multi-center STOP-COVID Investigators team continues to publish great work in top tier journals, including last month's article on ECMO use in COVID19 in Intensive Care Medicine and the effects of Prone Positioning on ventillated COVID19 patients, published in Critical Care Medicine

And we're excited to announce we have begun recruiting for our KIDCOV  study, following patients who have tested positive or negative for SARS-CoV-2 with mild symptoms, collecting urine samples over the course of the year to test for markers of kidney damage.  

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are excited that Michigan Medicine has joined with Washtenaw County Health Department to increase vaccination efforts of local teachers and school staff.  We hope to be working our way towards a more social summer. 

February 9, 2021

Take a moment this month to read about the Six Types of Heart Disease  and why heart disease is the leading cause of death as reported by TheHealthy.com.  The article includes important information on risk factors and symptoms by Dr. Hayek, including those symptoms specific to women, and tips on prevention by Dr. Janet Wei, a cardiologist at Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California.   

Our continued collaboration as the STOP-COVID Investigators has produced another high impact article, Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in patients with severe respiratory failure from COVID19, published earlier this month in Intensive Care Medicine.  This study finds that patients with severe hypoxia who received ECMO in the first seven days of ICU admission had lower in-hospital mortality than patients who did not.  

November 16, 2020

We have been excited to participate in the 2020 American Heart Association virtual Scientific Sessions conference.  

We are fortunate to have several poster presentations in the conference, and want to share them with anyone who was unable to attend.  

We thank all of our hardworking research team members and our collaborators for projects started, continued, or completed in what has been a difficult year for everyone.  

And many congratulations to Dr. Hayek for receiving the Sarns Innovative Excellence Award from the American Heart Association for helping build a world of longer, healthier lives.

November 2, 2020

Enormous congratulations to Dr. Hayek on his new Endowed Chair position!  

Dr. Hayek was awarded the Juanita Murchant, MD PhD, Early Career Endowment Chair through the Department of Internal Medicine at Michigan Medicine.   The Department of Internal Medicine initiated the creation of these competitive Early Career Endowment awards in 2019, assigned to junior faculty at the Assistant Professor level to be held by the awardee for 5 years.  

Meanwhile, another STOP-COVID original research article, Association Between Early Treatment With Tocilizumab and Mortality Among Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19 has been published in  JAMA Internal Medicine, to significant international attention.  

Early Career Endowment Awards

October 6, 2020

Our amazing research team has clocked a lot of overtime this year extracting data on the  course of every COVID19 patient to go through Michigan Medicine.  We've created and joined multiple collaborative teams and compiled data and resources to get the best answers fastest. Our newest article really shows the value of the hard work and collaborations,  published September 30 in The BMJ

 Using the STOP-COVID database including over 5000 ICU patients in 68 US hospitals, our team found that approximately one in seven patients experienced in-hospital cardiac arrest, of whom only 57% received cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Among those who received cardiopulmonary resuscitation, only 12% survived to hospital discharge, and only 7% did so with normal or mildly impaired neurological status. Survival to hospital discharge varied considerably by age, from 21% in patients younger than 45 years to 2.9% in patients aged 80 and older. Most patients who survived to hospital discharge required only a short course of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. 

Our study data could help inform patients, family members, and clinicians in complex decision making about patients with covid-19 who are at risk of cardiac arrest or who have experienced cardiac arrest. 

September 24, 2020

We've got a lot of big lab news to announce! 

We've hired a new research technician to join our team, Chris Launius!  Chris is moving back to his home state of Michigan to join his fiancée who has recently begun a PhD program in the area.  Chris received his undergraduate degree from Eastern Michigan University in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. He has mostly recently been working at Northwestern University in Chicago where he assisted in Alzheimer's disease research using mouse models.  Prior to Northwestern, Chris had another position at the University of Michigan in the Central Biorepository, from whom we have heard many good things.  We're excited to throw Chris into the mix and somehow manage training through all of our COVID19 restrictions! 

Our COVID19 research continues at a relentless pace - we're proud to announce our newest article published in the Journal of American Society of Nephrology this month - Soluble Urokinase Receptor (SuPAR) in COVID-19–Related Acute Kidney Injury.  

Nearly half of hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) develop AKI, with 20% requiring dialysis. We've previously found high levels of soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR)—an immune mediator of kidney injury— to predispose patients to AKI in various clinical scenarios, including critical illness. In our multicenter observational study, we measured plasma suPAR in 352 patients with COVID-19 within 48 hours of their hospitalization.  suPAR levels are strongly associated with incident AKI, independent of such clinical characteristics as kidney function and inflammatory biomarkers, and predictive of the need for dialysis. SuPAR may be a key component of the pathophysiology of AKI in COVID-19. 

You can check out the full article on JASN's website. 

August 19, 2020

We’re hiring!

We're looking for BOTH a post-doctoral fellow with a background in clinical research interested in biomarker, risk prediction, observational studies and clinical trials, and a laboratory technician with 2-3 years of experience in molecular labwork and animal experimentation. 

Our lab’s research activities span the spectrum from bench to bedside, with numerous translational and clinical research projects. Our translational research focuses on understanding the role of soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) in kidney and cardiovascular disease. We have an interest in Cardio-Oncology, notably in exploring the role of biomarkers to refine the risk prediction of cardiotoxic effects of chemotherapy. We have lately focused on understanding inflammation in COVID-19 and have created the Michigan Medicine COVID-19 cohort in which we have collected clinical data and measured numerous inflammatory biomarkers.

We are a highly active lab with numerous high yield projects with high impact publications. 

Check out our job postings here -  



July 8, 2020

We have exciting news this summer in the Hayek Lab!  First and foremost, Dr. Hayek has been appointed to the position of Medical Director of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center Clinic Ambulatory Care Unit. Dr. Hayek plans on taking a data driven approach, leveraging technology to add improvements to the next phase of ambulatory care at Michigan Medicine.  

Funding for our R01 provided through NHLBI has arrived and we’re excited to continue on with work examining the role of the circulating immune-derived glycoprotein, suPAR, in cardiovascular and kidney diseases. This 5 year project will allow us to delve much deeper into suPAR as a potential pathogenic factor for cardiovascular disease, and drive the future of preventative interventions. Preliminary data for the project was supported by two separate pilot grants here at the University of Michigan, whose support we were grateful to have.

For World Refugee Day on June 20, Dr. Hayek was interviewed by the NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies, a research group focused on creating cures that Dr. Hayek recently joined. You can read the brief article online. 

June 2, 2020

With an amazing 4 project proposal grant submissions in the past month, the Hayek lab has been busy.  Data collection and biomarker assays have continued for our COVID-19 research projects, and we’re looking to begin manuscript writing in earnest this month as we analyze data and interpret results.  We’re excited to be able to disseminate information from the many projects we’ve been working on and hope to post manuscript links soon! 

We are also excited to slowly ramp up non-COVID19 bench research at UM, as public health considerations and regulations from the state of Michigan have allowed with the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state.  Labwork is being phased in over the course of the summer across UM campuses, more research space opening as each phases is deemed successful and difficulties are sorted out.  We're looking to the future and hopeful for a productive and expansive second half the year. 

May 1, 2020

Dr. Hayek and his lab have begun several projects working towards increased understanding of our current global health crisis: COVID19.  Along with researchers across the United States and several countries in Europe, we are beginning to look into various aspects of the SARS-CoV-2 infection, including clinical presentation, triaging, blood and urine biomarkers, and outcomes generally and in several long-term disease categories.  Biosafety level 2 labwork and data collection are well underway as we race to find therapies that will help before the next wave of this pandemic roles through. More information about our studies, including our M2C2 dataset can be found on our COVID19 Research page