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WFUBMC Receives $7.5 Million for Hypertension Research

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center has been awarded $7.5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue its research into how the body regulates blood pressure and what goes wrong to cause high blood pressure.

"Knowing more about how blood pressure is regulated could lead to new drugs that are more effective than those available today," said Carlos Ferrario, M.D., lead researcher and director of the Hypertension and Vascular Disease Center.

The grant is for five research projects that are based on an important discovery the research team made in 1989: they identified a new hormone that helps regulate blood pressure. In their current work, they want to learn more about how the body makes the hormone and the hormone''s role in regulating blood pressure.

The research grant, which is for five years, is a continuation of funding from the NIH. During their previous grant period, the research team''s findings were published in more than 80 articles in professional journals. Important discoveries included the fact that angiotensis (1-7) may also play a role in preventing the rapid cell growth that causes blood vessels to eventually reclose after they have been treated with angioplasty or other artery-opening procedures.

"...The work could be the basis for new tools to treat cardiovascular disease," wrote one of the NIH representatives who approved the grant award.

Research project leaders, in addition to Ferrario, are Bridget Brosnihan, Ph.D., Mark Chappell, Ph.D., Debra Diz, Ph.D, Peg Gallagher, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Tallant, Ph.D.

Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the leading killer of both men and women in the United States. However, fewer than 23 percent of adults have blood pressure in the optimum range of 120/80. The Southeast, often called the stroke belt, has the highest rate of stroke in the country.

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