UH Medical School receives grant for cardiovascular research studies

New lab in Kaka'ako focuses on heart disease

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Gregg Takayama, (808) 382-3212
John A. Burns School of Medicine
Posted: Jun 6, 2007

HONOLULU - The John A. Burns School of Medicine has received a major federal grant totaling $11.5 million for a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) that will be part of the Center for Cardiovascular Research at the School‘s facilities in Kaka‘ako.

The five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health will fund research aimed at cardiovascular disease by developing research capacity at the Medical School. This includes support for both sophisticated core resources and for young investigators so that they can become independent scientists. It will be led by Dr. Ralph Shohet, Professor of Medicine and Director of Cardiovascular Research.

"Dr. Shohet‘s new Center for Cardiovascular Research is an example of top-flight research that‘s possible here by utilizing JABSOM‘s world-class facilities," said Gary Ostrander, Interim Dean of JABSOM. "It enables our University to attract and retain the highest level of scientific researchers."

The new Center will emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to cardiovascular disease and provide support and mentoring to young investigators working on basic cardiovascular projects. Dr. Shohet, who came here last year from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, has recruited leading scientists from around the country as external advisors and mentors for the COBRE investigators.

"The success of these assistant professors will be the ultimate goal of this program. A critical mass of independent investigators at the Medical School will provide huge benefits to the state including biotech jobs, external grant support, better trained students, and, most importantly, new insight into the causes and treatment of the cardiovascular diseases that affect our population," says Dr. Shohet.

Four young faculty in the departments of Cell & Molecular Biology and Medicine will lead the initial projects. These include studies of how blood vessels respond to diabetes by Dr. Gregory Maresh, the role of selenium in the heart by Dr. Peter Hoffman, how heart cells die by Dr. Michelle Matter, and how scar forms after a heart attack by Dr. Claude Jourdan LeSaux. All of these projects take advantage of mouse models that are created and evaluated in a new specialized core facility. In addition, a study of heart valve infection is a collaborative effort with Dr. John Allen in the School of Engineering.