WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Hypertension and Vascular Research Center at Wake Forest University School of Medicine has received renewal of a multi-million dollar grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to continue the development of new approaches to treat hypertension and vascular disease. The program is in its 16th year of existence at the School of Medicine.
The $6.643 million grant, a five-year renewal of an existing award, will provide major funding for the center’s basic science component. It will support ongoing projects that investigate the causes and cures of high blood pressure and vascular disease, including the mechanisms of blood pressure regulation and the balance between hormones that raise blood pressure and those that lower it.
Specifically, researchers at the School of Medicine plan to use the money to continue studying the mechanisms by which the renin angiotensin system, which regulates blood pressure, contributes to hypertension, cardiac hypertrophy (a thickening of the heart muscle that results in a decrease in size of the chamber of the heart), and other conditions.
In addition, new studies to investigate the regulation of cardiac function and hypertension, are underway.
Over the course of its history, the Program Project Grant has made major contributions to hypertension research. It first began in 1974 under the leadership of Irvine H. Page M.D., at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio. Carlos M. Ferrario, M.D., a professor of surgical sciences and physiology/pharmacology, assumed leadership of the program in 1982 and, as principal investigator, has continued to successfully lead the research efforts.
An internationally recognized center for the investigation of vascular disease and hypertension, the Hypertension and Vascular Research Center provides comprehensive care for hypertension and vascular disease, a mobile blood pressure clinic, early screening and management of peripheral artery disease.
The renewed funds will also include support of resource facilities that provide analytical tools for molecular biology, radioimmunoassay procedures, and housing and maintenance of genetic models of hypertension.
“The country, and our region specifically, continues to suffer from high rates of mortality due to strokes and heart disease,” Ferrario said. “An explosion of diabetes and obesity has aggravated the situation and demanded that we explore new approaches and medicines to reduce the risk of hypertension, treat obesity and diabetes, and develop new medicines that are specific and without side effects. Our new studies will pave the way for the development of new antihypertensive medicines that are directed to block the action of hormones that contribute to hypertension and diabetes.
“The renewal of our research program effort by the National Institutes of Health underscores the recognition of the eminent success of our researchers in advancing knowledge and treatment of hypertension and its complications,” he added.
Co-investigators for the project are Ann Tallant, Ph.D., Patricia Gallagher, Ph.D., K. Bridget Brosnihan, Ph.D., William Strawn, D.V.M., Ph.D., Debra I. Diz, Ph.D., Marc C. Chappell, Ph.D. and Jasmina Varagic, Ph.D.