Sat. Feb 16th, 2019

U of L receives $600,000 grant to research heart health

By James El-Mallakh–

Putting the “Card” in cardiovascular research, the University of Louisville has received four separate research grants totaling $660,000 over a period of four years by the American Heart Association. The grants awarded in June will go toward understanding and developing treatment of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S.

“I think I was so thrilled that I got the grant that I don’t actually remember reading the summary sheets,” said Nolan Boyd, the assistant professor of surgery at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute. His research emphasizes cardiovascular tissue regeneration through the use of cells derived from fat. Boyd also says he is not surprised that U of L doctors received four research grants, saying, “The cardiovascular system is one of the strengths here at the university and there were four good grants that were submitted and awarded.

“The combined grants give U of L a record of more than eight grants awarded to health-based research this year. U of L’s four recently acquired AHA grants rival twelve grants that were awarded to the University of Kentucky also by the AHA.

Three other doctors at U of L are received funding as well. Rosendo Estrada’s grant will focus on blood flow patterns related to atherosclerosis. Abnormal expansion of the heart, know as hypertrophy, will be studied Shahid Baba. Paras Mishra has a grant that focuses on cardiomyopathy, which deals with the enlargement and stiffening of the heart muscle.

Shahid Baba, an instructor in the University of Louisville division of cardiovascular medicine, says that his research so far has produced results and, with the aid of the grant money, his next goal is “to go out from the lab and give it to the patients and see what is the effect of it there, because whatever we do over here, that’s fine, but we need to have this thing in the market. That’s our next step.”

Rosendo Estrada is a postdoctoral research associate in the Speed School of Engineering. “Since I was very young, I really liked science. Any type of science: physics, biology, chemistry,” said Estrada. “Anything that is doing research, I love it.” Like many people, Estrada has been personally affected by cardiovascular disease and he hopes his research will help minimize the amount of harm it causes.

“My father died of a stroke because of high cholesterol and my two uncles of heart attacks.” While it is notable that U of L has received several grants this year, it is normally very difficult to acquire research-funding grants and researchers often encounter many failures before being awarded a grant. Boyd admits that of the twelve grants that he has applied for he has only been given three. Baba says that from the grant applications submitted from the Ohio Valley to the AHA only about 16 percent were chosen to be funded. “So now you can imagine just how competitive it is to get the money at this stage it’s like very, very difficult.”

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Photo courtesy of American Heart Association

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