Robert Yanagawa's overall goal as a researcher is to increase our understanding of cardiovascular diseases. With that in mind Yanagawa is investigating Coxsackievirus B3, the primary cause of viral myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), a condition that may result in chronic irregular heart beats, heart failure and sudden death. Organ transplantation is the only definitive treatment for heart failure caused by this virus. Yanagawa is examining the ability of host cells within infected cardiac muscle to activate protective signalling mechanisms. When stimulated, these mechanisms may maintain heart muscle viability, slow replication of the virus and preserve heart function. Yanagawa hopes that establishing new insights about protective mechanisms will ultimately lead to more effective treatments for viral myocarditis.