Grant Awarded to OSRI will Further CardioPulmonary Research at Local Institutions

October 1, 2013

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The National Institute for General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health has awarded a $10.1 million, 5-year grant to establish the CardioPulmonary Vascular Biology Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE). This COBRE is awarded to Ocean State Research Institute, a non-profit corporation located at the Providence VA Medical Center (VAMC) that supports research and education. The CardioPulmonary Vascular Biology COBRE supports 5 junior investigators who will perform mentored vascular biology research in laboratories located at either the Providence VAMC or Rhode Island Hospital with Core support via the Providence VAMC and Brown University.

“Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence are thematic, multidisciplinary programs that develop faculty and institutional research capabilities in states—like Rhode Island—that historically have had low levels of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH),” said W. Fred Taylor, Ph.D., who directs the IDeA program at NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences. “This COBRE brings together a group of investigators to focus on heart and lung disease pathogenesis and treatment, which could lead to the development of new and innovative therapies.” Diseases of the heart and lungs are the first and third leading causes of death in Rhode Island and in the US as a whole.

The CardioPulmonary Vascular Biology COBRE is led by Sharon Rounds, MD, Program Director, and by Elizabeth Harrington, PhD, Deputy Director. Sharon Rounds is Chief of the Medical Service at the Providence VAMC and Professor of Medicine and of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Elizabeth Harrington is Research Biologist at the PVAMC, Associate Dean for the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in the Division of Biology & Medicine at Brown University, and Associate Professor of Medicine (Research) at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

The junior investigators and projects supported by the CardioPulmonary Vascular Biology COBRE are:

Qing Lu, DVM, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Research). “Adenosine and Lung Endothelial Injury”. Mentor: Alfred Ayala, PhD, Professor of Surgery (Research)

Joanne Lomas-Neira, PhD, Instructor in Surgery (Research). “Effects of Angiopoeitins on Shock-Induced Acute Lung Injury”. Mentors: Jonathan Reichner PhD, Associate Professor of Surgery (Research) and Sharon Rounds MD, Professor of Medicine

Ruhul Abid, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Surgery (Cardiothoracic Surgery, Research). “Improvement of Coronary Vascular Functions by Endothelium-targeted Increase in Reactive Oxygen Species in vivo”. Mentors: Frank Sellke MD, Karlson and Karlson Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Elizabeth Harrington PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine (Research)

Peng Zhang, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Research) “Regulation of Cardiac Fibroblast Function by MicroRNAs”. Mentors: Ulrike Mende MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, and Bharat Ramratnam, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine

Corey Ventetuolo, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine. “Sex Hormones and Pulmonary Vascular and Right Ventricular Dysfunction”. Mentors: James R. Klinger MD, Professor of Medicine, and Peter J. Quesenberry MD, Professor of Medicine

The Administrative Core of the CardioPulmonary Vascular Biology COBRE, led by Sharon Rounds, will organize mentoring and career development activities for the Junior Investigators, including visits from expert visiting professors from other universities. The Administrative Core will also make available Pilot Project funding in vascular biology.

The Cell Isolation/Organ Function Core, directed by Elizabeth Harrington, will provide high quality isolation, characterization, and propagation of vascular and cardiac cells, as well as cardiopulmonary organ function studies. The Core will provide expertise in assessing cardiac function using rodent echocardiography, intra-cardiac pressure-volume analysis, and lung function studies. These services will be available for all Rhode Island vascular biology researchers.

The research performed by the CardioPulmonary Vascular Biology COBRE investigators and mentors is highly likely to improve care of lung and heart diseases and thus positively impact the health of Rhode Islanders.