UH heart disease research receives fed grant of $11.5M
Young doctors will have an opportunity to lead cardiovascular research projects under an $11.5 million federal grant to the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine.
The five-year National Institutes of Health grant for the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence will fund cardiovascular disease projects in the school's Center for Cardiovascular Research.
"The main purpose is to train young investigators to the point of independence," Dr. Ralph Shohet, cardiovascular research director and principal investigator for the grant, said in an interview.
He said the grant was obtained competitively, renewing one the medical school had previously.
"It is going to have all kinds of benefits for Hawaii," helping to fulfill the vision of the Kakaako medical facility "as an engine for biotechnical development and for high-level technical expertise," he said.
The funding bridges a difficult time for young doctors between the end of their training and the point where they can attract grants and become principal investigators, Shohet said.
Four faculty members selected for the program from the Departments of Cell & Molecular Biology and Medicine and their research topics are: Dr. Gregory Maresh, how blood vessels respond to diabetes; Dr. Peter Hoffman, the role of selenium in the heart; Dr. Michelle Matter, how heart cells die; and Dr. Claude Jourdan LeSaux, how scar forms after a heart attack. They will use a specialized facility developed for cardiovascular research with mice, Shohet said.
Also receiving funding under the grant is Dr. John Allen in the College of Engineering. He studies ultrasound and is working on a study of heart valve infection. Shohet joined UH last year from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, bringing with him three people and "a bunch of grants" that were folded into a Center for Cardiovascular Research at the new medical school in Kakaako. He said he was brought here with a grant the medical school obtained to try to attract a molecular cardiologist to build a research program here.