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Winners of 2018 Pilot Research Program Announced

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Department of Medicine is pleased to announce that the 2018 recipients of the Pilot Research Program are:

  • Dr. Douglas Anderson, Division of Cardiology: "Control of Cardiac Rhythm by a Novel Potassium-regulatory Micropeptide"
  • Dr. Daniel Croft, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care: "A Pilot Randomized Crossover Trial of Indoor Air Cleaning to Reduce Acute Exacerbations of COPD"
  • Dr. David Levy, Division of Nephrology: "Nephrology Division E-Consult Program"
  • Dr. Susanne Miedlich, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism: "Managing Diabetes in Patients with Schizophrenia: Is Early Therapy with the New GLP (Glucagon-Like Peptide) Analogue Semaglutide Superior to Standard of Care in Patients with Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder on Olanzapine or Clozapine?"
  • Dr. Melissa Mroz, Division of General Medicine: "Addressing Obesity and Mental Health through Primary Care Based Lifestyle Management Intervention at Strong Internal Medicine"
  • Dr. Tanya Sahay, Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology: "Development of Primary Care Infrastructure for the Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection at Strong Memorial Hospital"
  • Dr. Maria Slack, Division of Allergy, Immunology & Rheumatology: "Regulation of the Nasal Transcriptome by House Dust Exposure"
  • Dr. Lisa Vargish, Division of Geriatrics & Aging: "Interprofessional Education in Geriatrics"
  • Dr. Himabindu Vidula, Division of Cardiology: "Telemedicine for Left Ventricular Assist Device Patients: Feasibility and Patient Perceptions"

Funding will begin in July 2018. Learn more about the Pilot Research Program.

AHA Grants Will Accelerate Search for New Stroke Therapies

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A series of awards from the American Heart Association (AHA) to a team of researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) will focus on the development of new treatments to thwart the damage in the brain caused by stroke.

One of the research projects brings together experts in stroke, cardiovascular biology, platelet biology, and peptide chemistry. Marc Halterman, M.D., Ph.D., with the URMC Center for Neurotherapeutics Discovery, Scott Cameron, M.D., Ph.D., and Craig Morrell, D.V.M., Ph.D., with the URMC Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute, and Bradley Nilsson, Ph.D., with the University of Rochester Department of Chemistry will focus on the role that platelets play in acute brain injury and inflammation during stroke.

Platelets serve an important role in protecting against blood loss and repairing injured blood vessels. However, during a stroke the inflammatory properties of platelets can interfere with the restoration of blood flow once the clot in the brain is removed, particularly in micro-vessels, which can lead to permanent damage of brain tissue.

The research team will build synthetic peptides that activate platelets to study the phenomenon -- which is called no-reflow -- in an effort to identify specific switches within platelets that can be turned off and limit the cells' inflammatory functions without blocking their ability to prevent bleeding.

Read More: AHA Grants Will Accelerate Search for New Stroke Therapies

MSTP Student Wins Research Award from American Heart Association

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Jonathan Bartko, MS has received a two-year Predoctoral Fellowship Award from the American Heart Association (AHA).

Bartko is an MD/PhD candidate currently in his second year of the Cell Biology of Disease (Pathology) Graduate Program as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at the University of Rochester.

He currently works in the lab of Marc Halterman, M.D., Ph.D. which specializes in stroke and cardiac arrest research. Bartko's current project is entitled, "BDNF-TrkB Regulation of ER-Dependent Death in the Peri-Ischemic Cortex."

Lungs Mays Hold Key to Thwarting Brain Damage after a Stroke

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

By Mark Michaud

The harm caused by a stroke can be exacerbated when immune cells rush to the brain an inadvertently make the situation worse. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) are studying new ways to head off this second wave of brain damage by using the lungs to moderate the immune system's response.

"It has become increasingly clear that lungs serve as an important regulator of the body's immune system and could serve as a target for therapies that can mitigate the secondary damage that occurs in stroke," said URMC neurologist Marc Halterman, M.D., Ph.D. "We are exploring a number of drugs that could help suppress the immune response during these non-infection events and provide protection to the brain and other organs."

Halterman's lab, which is part of the Center for NeuroTherapeutics Discovery, has been investigating domino effect that occurs after cardiac arrest. When blood circulation is interrupted, the integrity of our intestines becomes compromised, releasing bacteria that reside in the gut into the blood stream. This prompts a massive immune response which can cause systemic inflammation, making a bad situation worse.

While looking at mouse models of stroke, his lab observed that a similar phenomenon occurs. During a stroke blood vessels in the brain leak and the proteins that comprise the wreckage of damaged neurons and glia cells in the brain make their way into blood stream. The immune system, which is not used to seeing these proteins in circulation, responds to these damage-associated molecular patterns and ramps up to respond. Mobilized immune cells make their way into the brain and, finding no infection, nevertheless trigger inflammation and attack healthy tissue, compounding the damage.

The culprit in this system-wide immune response is neutrophils, a white cell in the blood system that serves as the shock troops of the body's immune system. Because our entire blood supply constantly circulates through the lungs, the organ serves as an important way station for neutrophils. It is here that the cells are often primed and instructed to go search for new infections. The activated neutrophils can also cause inflammation in the lungs, which Halterman suspects may be mistakenly identified as post-stroke pneumonia. The damage caused by activated neutrophils can also spread to other organs including the kidneys, and liver.

Read More: Lungs Mays Hold Key to Thwarting Brain Damage after a Stroke