Sandra Merklinger RN, PhD

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

Reducing surgical risk and improving outcomes for babies born with a single ventricle is the basis for my research.  Improvements are on the horizon for this vulnerable group who face a life-threatening cardiac abnormality.

Dr. Sandra Merklinger’s research is focused on creating new surgical possibilities for babies born with a single ventricle.  The current standard therapy for repairing this cardiac abnormality consists of a Norwood palliation, bidirectional cavopulmonary shunt (BCPS) and a Fontan procedure.  Despite improvements, mortality remains high and Dr. Merklinger and her colleagues hypothesized that reducing the time interval between the Norwood procedure and conversion to a BCPS, or precluding the stage 1 Norwood entirely, might improve survival.

To achieve this hypothesis there is a need to overcome the high pulmonary vascular resistance of the newborn, which normally takes weeks to months to develop.  Overcoming the limitations of an immature lung is the focus of the research and examines: 1) Accelerating lung vessel growth with a medicine called heparin; evaluation of the molecular basis for this effect is currently underway; and 2) Mechanical lung assist where a small implantable pump is used temporarily to pump the blood forward from the body to the lungs.

At U of T Nursing, her teaching responsibilities will include roles in graduate and undergraduate programs.  Dr. Merklinger will continue to teach the NP pathophysiology and pharmacotheraputics courses.

  • 2005 – PhD, University of Toronto

  • 2000 – MN, University of Toronto

  • 1990 – BScN, University of Toronto

Dr. Merklinger’s PubMed link is available here.