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New AHA Awards for Fellows at Division of Molecular Medicine

December 19th, 2016

New AHA Awards for Fellows at Division of Molecular Medicine
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In December 2016, Division of Molecular Medicine received two new research fellowships from American Heart Association. Congratulations to the fellows and the supervising faculties.

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Christine Cunningham and her Supervisor Dr. Mansoureh Eghbali

Christine Cunningham is a second year Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology PhD student in Dr. Mansoureh Eghbali's lab pursuing her thesis in sex differences in cardiovascular disease. She was recently awarded a Predoctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association where her grant titled "Sex differences in pulmonary hypertension: protection by the Y chromosome" was ranked in the top 2% of all applicants. One of the main focuses of the Eghbali Lab is pulmonary hypertension (PH) which is a devastating vascular lung disease that is up to 4X more common in women. The Eghbali Lab investigated, for the first time, the role of sex chromosomes in the development of PH and found that the Y chromosome is protective against development of the disease. This grant aims to identify the gene(s) on the Y chromosome responsible for the protection against PH. In doing this, they hope to help explain the prevalence of PH among women and potentially elucidate a novel therapeutic approach to treat PH.

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Dr. Bhaswati Roy and her Supervisor Dr. Rajesh Kumar

Dr. Bhaswati Roy, PhD, received a highly competitive AHA grant award entitled, "Reduced Brain Perfusion Contributing to Cognitive Deficits in Heart Failure". Dr. Roy is a Postdoctoral Fellow working on a joint research project between the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine (PI; Rajesh Kumar, PhD) and UCLA School of Nursing (PI; Mary Woo, RN, PhD) under mentorship of Rajesh Kumar, PhD, Associate Professor In-Residence of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine.

Heart failure (HF) patients show significant brain injury in various areas, which control cognitive functions, and consequently increases morbidity and mortality. A potential cause of brain injury may be compromised cerebral blood flow (CBF), indicating altered cerebrovascular auto-regulation. However, such compromised CBF has not been examined and site-specific CBF value has not been linked to cognitive issues. Dr. Roy will assess regional brain CBF and tissue integrity, cognitive status, and relationships between regional CBF and cognitive scores in HF subjects. Information from this study has important implications on identification of effective treatments for reducing brain damage by improving cerebrovascular auto-regulation/CBF in HF and thus, cognition, which could dramatically improve the mortality, morbidity, and quality of life in this high risk patient population.

Yibin Wang, Ph.D.
Vice Chair of Research

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