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Signaling Obesity — Dr. Young-Hwan Jo has been awarded $1.8 million over five years by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to support his research of physiological interactions between two distinct types of neurons located within the hypothalamus, and their relation to obesity resulting from a surplus of energy known as a positive energy balance. Dr. Jo will attempt to determine how the exchanges between different populations of neurons contribute to the control of hypothalamic neurophysiology and the regulation of energy homeostasis in relation to obesity. Dr. Jo is assistant professor of medicine and of molecular pharmacology.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Training Support — The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has renewed Dr. Frederick Kaskel’s Developmental Nephrology T32 training grant with an additional five-year reward of $1.32 million. The grant, which will have been active for more than four decades through this renewal, trains new pediatric nephrology physician-scientists in the latest advances in basic and translational research. The goal is to generate well-trained investigators who can address and solve the major questions regarding pediatric kidney diseases and translate this knowledge into clinical practice. Trainees supported by this grant are researching congenital and developmental disorders, inflammatory diseases, acute injury, and end-stage disease of the kidney. Dr. Kaskel is professor and vice chair of pediatrics and director of pediatric nephrology.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Complex Research — Dr. Arne Gennerich has been awarded $1.5 million over five years by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to examine the molecular mechanism of the cytoplasmic dynein-dynactin motor complex in order to define the molecular bases of dynein-related diseases in humans. Cytoplasmic dynein is a protein vital to various cellular activities, and mutations in dynactin (a large protein complex required for most cytoplasmic dynein activity) are known to cause neurodegeneration, leading to diseases such as distal spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy and Perry syndrome. Dr. Gennerich will study the molecular mechanisms that underlie the function and dysfunction of the dynein-dynactin complex. Dr. Gennerich is assistant professor of anatomy and structural biology.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

In“valv”uable Insights  Dr. Bin Zhou has been awarded $2.4 million over four years by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in order to study the genetic pathways that regulate aortic valve biology and that mediate calcific aortic valve stenosis (CAVS). A complex syndrome involving multiple cellular processes, CAVS is the most common disease to require surgical valve replacement. Using mouse models to study CAVS and its cellular and molecular mechanisms, Dr. Zhou is seeking critical information concerning the origins and effects of CAVS, with the goal of developing new therapeutic and preventive strategies for this devastating form of heart disease. Dr. Zhou is associate professor of genetics, of pediatrics and of medicine (cardiology). Drs. Bingruo Wu (genetics), Deyou Zheng (neurology), and Richard Kitsis (medicine) are co-investigators on this project.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Therapeutic InvestigationDr. Alain Litwin has been awarded $3.7 million over five years from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study models of care for injection drug users infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), a potentially lethal virus that infects the liver and is spread by blood-to-blood contact. While HCV treatment leading to a sustained viral response is associated with improved survival, injection drug users have classically had poor access to care and limited success following such regimens. Dr. Litwin will conduct a randomized control trial of three models of care that incorporate new HCV therapies -- on-site primary care, substance abuse treatment, and psychiatric care within drug treatment clinics -- to determine which model is best and most cost-effective for successfully treating HCV-infected injection drug users. Dr. Litwin is associate professor of clinical medicine and of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Sound Science Through the Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience Program, which funds innovative approaches to science and engineering research on brain function, the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders has awarded Dr. José Luis Peña and collaborators at University of Oregon and Seattle University $1.8 million over five years to study how the brain optimally determines sound location. Working with barn owls, which are particularly adept at locating prey by sound, Dr. Peña and his research team will develop statistical models to describe how the brain can approach optimal hearing function. To do so, he will collaborate with Drs. Terry Takahashi and Brian Fischer, experts in the fields of behavioral research and mathematics, respectively. The ultimate aim of the research will be to further advance our knowledge of how neuronal networks guide behavior and process natural scenes. Dr. Peña is associate professor in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience. Dr. Takahashi is on the faculty at University of Oregon and Dr. Fischer is at Seattle University.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Training Support  The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has renewed Dr. Margaret Kielian’s Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology and Genetics T32 training grant with an award of $4 million over five years. The grant, which has been in effect since 1987, financially supports the training of Ph.D. graduate students in interdisciplinary areas of cell biology, molecular biology and genetics. The diverse research conducted by the trainees has implications for major human health issues, including cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmunity, and developmental problems. The program includes faculty from eight basic science departments at Einstein and, over the past decade has graduated 45 Ph.D. students, 90 percent of whom have continued to work in science-related careers. Dr. Kielian is professor of cell biology and has been the training grant director for the past five years.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Promising Investigations  Dr. Edward Schwartz was awarded a $1.5 million grant over five years by the National Cancer Institute to study a promising new drug, AEAC (6-(2-aminoethyl)amino-5-chlorouracil) for the treatment of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, a small subset of pancreatic cancers that possess a high number of structurally abnormal blood vessels. AEAC inhibits the ability of a tumor to expand its network of new, nutrient-supplying blood vessels (angiogenesis) by blocking the pro-angiogenic factor thymidine phosphorylase. Building upon his laboratory’s recent discovery of this drug, Dr. Schwartz and his research team will employ mouse models of pancreatic cancer to investigate its activity and mechanisms of action, used alone and in combination therapy. The goal of these studies is to determine new approaches for treating pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer that could then be tested in clinical trials. Dr. Schwartz is professor of medicine (oncology).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 

Effective Gene Therapy — In a paper recently published in Blood, Dr. Eric Bouhassira and his student Chanjung Chang describe a novel approach for the safe insertion of therapeutic genes into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).  Using this new method, the duo was able to insert the α-globin gene into iPSCs to treat α-thalassemia, a blood-related disease that is usually fatal at birth and results from a mutation in the α-globin gene. After differentiation of the corrected-iPS into red blood cells,  Dr. Bouhassira and Mr. Chang were able to demonstrate that the gene correction was very effective since red blood cells produced from the treated stem cells expressed quasi-normal levels of hemoglobins.  These experiments represent a major step  toward  curing a-thalassemias and other blood diseases by transplantation  of patient-specific, gene-corrected stem cells.  Dr. Bouhassira is professor of medicine (hematology) and of cell biology, and the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
Polly Bijur

Pain Gain — A team led by Dr. Polly Bijur has been awarded $1.2 million over three years from the NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research, to evaluate pain management in the emergency department. Their study will determine the safety and efficacy of an innovative system in which patients are permitted to administer their own pain treatments. Successful implementation of this system could improve both emergency department productivity and patient outcomes. Dr. Bijur is professor of epidemiology & population health, of emergency medicine and of pediatrics.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
 
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