Navigation Links
Groundbreaking model of heart disease rewarded with NIH Pioneer Award
Date:9/23/2009

SALT LAKE CITYA pioneering model that a University of Utah cardiologist proposes as a cause of heart disease is the kind of creative thinking the National Institutes of Health (NIH) likes to seeand reward with one of its most prestigious honors, a $2.5 million 2009 Pioneer Award.

Ivor J. Benjamin, M.D., professor of internal medicine and biochemistry and the Christi T. Smith Endowed Chair of Cardiovascular Research at the U of U School of Medicine, believes that one of the body's most powerful antioxidantsmolecules generally believed to protect the heartactually might lead to disease in the heart and other organs when a gene mutation causes the body to overproduce the molecule. His theory, which stirred some controversy when Benjamin presented it in a 2007 study in the journal Cell, represents a paradigm shift in understanding the causes of heart disease. But with the conviction that new and unconventional ideas propel science forward, and after a highly competitive and critical review process, the NIH chose Benjamin to further investigate the idea as one of only 18 researchers to receive a Pioneer Award.

NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., will present Benjamin and the other recipients their awards in a ceremony this Thursday, Sept. 24, at the agency's headquarters in Bethesda, Md. Benjamin will receive $500,000 annually for five years to pursue his research. Much of the Pioneer Award program's appeals is that it encourages researchers to think outside the box while receiving substantial funds to test their ideas, according to Collins.

"The fact that we continue to receive such strong proposals for funding through the program attests to the wealth of creative ideas in so many fields of science today," he said.

The Pioneer Awards are part of a lager program of 115 grants intended to foster innovative and potentially transformative medical research. The NIH awarded a total of $13.5 million to this year's Pioneer Award winners.

An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from heart failure, with 500,000 new cases diagnosed annually. Disease that leads to heart failure long has been associated with oxidative stress, the process in which the body produces "free radical" molecules in response to oxygen intake. Once they're produced, free radicals roam the body, creating chemical reactions that damage organs and other tissue.

To protect cells from free radicals, the body makes antioxidants. Benjamin's work focuses on a particular antioxidant, reduced glutathione, which is produced when a protein called alpha B-Crystallin unfolds inside of cells. When mutated versions of the human gene that makes alpha B-Crystallin were placed in mice, however, certain metabolic pathways were improperly activated, which led to excessive production of reduced glutathione and heart damage in the animals. Benjamin terms this condition "reductive stress."

Until recently, reductive stress hasn't been looked at in the context of disease. But Benjamin showed that mice with too much reduced glutathione had increased heart failure rates, while those with normal levels of the antioxidant did not develop heart failure. Given the role of antioxidants, the theory is counterintuitive, Benjamin acknowledges. But if he's correct, it could lead to developing an entirely new class of "antireductant" drugs to treat or even prevent heart disease caused by reductive stress. "Our findings show that the potential for reductive stress causing heart disease definitely warrants more investigation," Benjamin says. "The Pioneer Award will enable us the freedom to investigate the consequences and mechanisms of reductive stress and, hopefully, do the kind of work that can be transformative."

Benjamin's research represents the kind of imaginative and searching science that the U of U values in its faculty, according to Lorris Betz, M.D., Ph.D., University of Utah senior vice president for health sciences. "As a research university, we want our investigators to expand the bounds of science, even when that means questioning or contradicting conventional theories and wisdom," Betz says. "Ivor Benjamin does just that. On behalf of the entire University of Utah health sciences community, I congratulate and applaud Dr. Benjamin for being recognized with this tremendous honor."

Although the Pioneer Award is in his name, Benjamin is quick to credit his laboratory team and colleagues with making the award possible. "I am honored and humbled to have been chosen for the award," he says. "But the real story is my multidisciplinary team. They deserve a lot of credit, too."


'/>"/>

Contact: Phil Sahm
phil.sahm@hsc.utah.edu
801-581-2517
University of Utah Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Groundbreaking Canada-US study proves link between emissions and mercury pollution in fish
2. Groundbreaking Canada-US study proves link between emissions and mercury pollution in fish
3. BGSU undergraduates to pilot groundbreaking genome project
4. Groundbreaking discovery may lead to stronger antibiotics
5. Tufts students host Earth Day with groundbreaking ceremony for solar house
6. UTs Valentin Dragoi gets $1.2 million grant for groundbreaking approach to brain research
7. Research Councils UK sign groundbreaking MoU with Brazil
8. Novel 3-D cell culture model shows selective tumor uptake of nanoparticles
9. A new kind of rat model
10. JILA finds flaw in model describing DNA elasticity
11. Smithsonian researchers develop models to assess wetland health
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/7/2016)... , Dec. 7, 2016   Veridium ... announced the appointment of new CEO James ... executive with decades of experience, has served in ... Cisco, where he specialized in expanding a pipeline ... technology portfolios. He most recently served as managing ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... , December 1, 2016 ... type (Fingerprint, Voice), Future Technology (Iris Recognition System), ... Region - Global Forecast to 2021", published by ... 442.7 Million in 2016, and is projected to ... a CAGR of 14.06%.      (Logo: ...
(Date:11/29/2016)... 29, 2016   Neurotechnology , a ... recognition technologies, today released FingerCell 3.0, a ... solutions that run on low-power, low-memory microcontrollers. ... less than 128KB of memory, enabling it ... have limited on-board resources, such as: mobile ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/9/2016)... 9, 2016 The research report ... players in the  Global Label-Free Array Systems Market  accounted ... in 2015. Players such as Biacore, Agilent Technologies, ForteBio, ... in the global market due to their unmatched product ... Product upgrades and timely product launches are expected to ...
(Date:12/9/2016)... Dec. 9, 2016 China Cord Blood Corporation (NYSE: ... China,s leading provider of cord blood collection, laboratory ... today announced the results of its 2016 Annual General Meeting, ... S.A.R., China . At ... the re-appointment of KPMG Huazhen LLP as the independent auditors ...
(Date:12/9/2016)... According to a new market research report "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market ... (Research, PCR, Gene, DNA, NGS, Diagnostic, RNAI), End user (Academic, Pharmaceutical, ... is expected to reach USD 2.20 Billion by 2021 from USD ... forecast period. Continue Reading ... ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... This report analyzes the worldwide markets for Biostimulants ... Amino, & Fulvic), Extract Based, and Others. The report also ... & Turf, Row Crops, and Others. The report provides separate ... Japan , Europe , ... , and Rest of World. Annual estimates and forecasts are ...
Breaking Biology Technology: