SALT LAKE CITY—Researchers at the University of UtahDepartment of Medicine have announced the receipt of $16 million from theNational Institutes of Health. The grant will be used to establish atranslational research center to study cellular and molecular causes ofthrombosis, or blood clots, with the goal of finding new diagnostic,preventative and therapeutic treatments for thrombosis. Andrew S. Weyrich,Ph.D., a University of Utah professor of medicine, was the principalinvestigator for the grant, with Guy A. Zimmerman, M.D., professor andassociate chair for research in the Department of Medicine, as co-principalinvestigator.
"Drs. Zimmerman and Weyrich have distinguished themselves intheir research of platelets and thrombosis, and it speaks highly of their priorwork for them to receive this large grant," said Vivian S. Lee, M.D, Ph.D.,M.B.A., senior vice president for health sciences and dean of the School ofMedicine at the university, and CEO of University of Utah Health Care."Effective translational research is critical for addressing thrombosis, whichthreatens many millions of people worldwide. I look forward to thecontributions of our translational research center to bring therapies and testsinto the practice of medicine as soon as possible."
The new center began its research in July, and will bestudying how different factors, such as high glucose and lipid levels, in bloodand tissues can cause molecular that make platelets more prone to induceclotting. Platelets contribute to harmful clotting in a variety of ailments,including heart attack, atherosclerosis and stroke, and the studies will allowfor new understanding in managing and treating diabetes and obesity.
There will be four major research projects undertaken at thecenter, two of which will study new molecular features of platelets that leadto thrombosis in mice and laboratory studies, while another two will examineplatelet functions that lead to thrombosis in patients with diabetes, obesityand the metabolic syndrome. Mice studies are already underway, and enrollmentfor human studies will begin soon.
"The University is poised to make major discoveries directlyrelevant to the causes and treatment of clots in patients with diabetes,obesity, and other metabolic disorders," said Weyrich in a press release. "Wehave not only the knowledge of platelets but also the ability to conductsophisticated approaches to challenging clinical problems."
Additional investigators include E. Dale Abel, M.D., Ph.D.,a professor in the Department of Medicine who will director a project in thenew research center, and Dean Y. Li, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the samedepartment who will collaborate with the center's investigators and direct itseducational unit. In addition, Jane Freedman, M.D., professor of medicine anddirector of translational research at the University of Massachusetts MedicalSchool, will join the Utah researchers as the lead investigator in a majorproject.
"The new center is an outstanding example ofinterdisciplinary research brought to bear on difficult and challengingclinical problems," said John R. Hoidal, M.D., Clarence M. and Ruth N. BirrerPresidential Chair and chair of the Department of Medicine, in a statement."This kind of collaborative, cutting-edge investigation is a major focus in theDepartment of Medicine, and builds on a long history of research into themolecular basis for human diseases in the Department. It will also be anexcellent resource for the School of Medicine and the University."
Clotting disorders represent a growing problem worldwide,particularly in patients suffering from diabetes, obesity and metabolicdisorders. In addition, the World Health Organization recently attached "globalstatus" to chronic, non-communicable diseases like diabetes, with the UnitedNations General Assembly holding a meeting in 2011 on such disorders and theirhealth and economical impact worldwide.
SOURCE: University of Utah press release