2020 News Archive

2020 News & Events Archive

December 2020

Featured Research
  • New Research Aims to Improve Health Among Rural Appalachians Through Personal Technology
    The National Institutes of Health/National Heart Lung and Blood Institute recently awarded a five-year $3.8 million grant to the University of Kentucky to begin a new study aimed at improving diet and activity among rural Appalachian Kentuckians. In partnership with local communities, this project is being led by Nancy E. Schoenberg, Marion Pearsall Professor of Behavioral Science in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine and director of UK’s Center for Health Equity Transformation, and Deanna Lee Sherman, a resident of Harlan County and project manager. Schoenberg and her community partners have developed numerous health promotion randomized controlled trials that leverage UK-community partnerships. Partners include faith-based entities, local health care facilities, schools, community centers and other local organizations. Current NIH-funded research projects include a diabetes management program and a child nutrition program located in Eastern Kentucky. The new research effort will test whether a program, Make Better Choices 2 (MBC2), can improve diet and physical activity among 300 community members in Eastern Kentucky. The MBC2 intervention integrates four approaches: an interactive app, personalized health coaching, Fitbits and financial incentives. MBC2 will be conducted among rural Appalachian Kentuckians, a population at high risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic conditions that can be improved by diet and physical activity. Read the rest of the UKnow article here.
  • New Therapy Restores Quality of Life for Heart Failure Patient
    Imagine going to the doctor and finding out you had a heart attack without knowing. That was Carolyn Snow's reality 15 years ago. During a normal check-up, Snow's family physician heard a heart murmur that was concerning, so she referred Snow to a cardiologist. After extensive bloodwork and numerous tests, it turned out that Snow, from Lincoln County, was in fact having a heart attack. "I had no symptoms and did not even know I had heart problems until I went to the doctor," Snow said. "I was shocked." Cardiovascular disease runs in Snow's family, including in her mother and two brothers, but it was still a surprise when she learned of her own heart troubles. Snow's life changed after she was diagnosed with heart failure. Read the UKNow story to see how GHVI Doctors helped this patient. 

November 2020

Featured Research 
  • Game Changer' Therapy for Heart Failure Patients
    Dr. Emma Birks, UK HealthCare's heart failure section chief, is working on a new treatment therapy that recovers the hearts of some patients with advanced-stage chronic heart failure and ultimately cut down the number of heart transplants needed. Birks' study, "REmission from Stage D Heart Failure: RESTAGE-HF," is featured in Circulation. The multicenter study, involving 40 patients from six high-profile medical centers across the United States, tested myocardial recovery using a cardiovascular treatment toolleft ventricular assist devices (LVAD). LVADs are typically used in end-stage heart failure patients as a therapy of last resort, most often as a bridge to transplant or destination therapy in patients considered to have failed medical therapy for advanced chronic heart failure. Read the rest of the UKnow article here.
  • Lisa Cassis Discusses Priority Areas for UK Research Efforts
    Totaling more than $429 million, the University of Kentucky saw a record-breaking year of research funding for the 2019-20 academic year, a 3% increase from the previous year. UK also continues to climb in national research rankings, coming in at 63rd among 624 public and private universities. Leading the way in this area is Lisa Cassis, UK’s vice president for research. Cassis oversees the university’s vast medical and nonmedical research efforts. Listen to the Behind the Blue Podcast here

October 2020

Featured Research
  • The University of Kentucky's Alliance Initiative capitalizes on collaboration and the transdisciplinary strategy built from the best practices and metrics across the nation in developing programmatic research. It is designed to provide seed funding and support for multidisciplinary teams of scientists, from colleges and centers across the University’s campus, to find answers to the health challenges that disproportionately affect Kentuckians. The CV-RPA is part of four Alliance Initiatives, the third Alliance we would like to feature is the Virus Induced Thrombosis Alliance (VITAL) led by Beth Garvy, PhD and Wally Whiteheart, PhD. Thrombosis, the formation of clots in blood vessels, lies at the root of the causes of many cardiovascular disease deaths such as strokes, heart attacks, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Infectious disease can increase the chance of this coagulation dysfunction, and some viral infections, including HIV1+/AIDS, double the risk of occlusive cardiovascular disease. VITAL is investigating why infections cause an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The combination of cardiology and virology is critical, especially now, as the effect of COVID-19 on clotting becomes clear. VITAL’s initial focus on the thrombotic risks associated with HIV1+/AIDS has grown into a collaboration with the Bluegrass Care Clinic to examine coagulation dysfunction in COVID-19 patients. Follow the Alliance Research Initiatives here.
Award Recipients
  • Honorable Maestro Award
    Congratulations to Dr. Susan Smyth, director of Gill Heart & Vascular Institute.  At this year's KY-ACC 2020 meeting, Dr. Smyth was presented The Honorable Maestro Award. She has contributed tremendously to cards/antithrombotics research, KY health, and the mentorship of countless cardiology students. The Honorable Maestro Award is the Kentucky Chapter - American College of Cardiology's highest honor. The award recognizes achievements in the field of cardiology and medicine, leadership in the regional and national cardiology community, charity work, and mentorship as well as vigilant care of the sick.
  • Maria Kraemer, PhD: AHA, Postdoctoral Fellowship.
    Mentors: Susan Smyth, MD, PhD and Andrew Morris, PhD
    Project Title: Regulation and Function of Lipoprotein Associated Bioactive Lysophospholipid Mediators of Atherosclerosis. 
  • Hisashi Sawada, MD, PhD AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship.
    Mentor: Alan Daugherty, PhD, DSc.
    Project Title:  The impact of smooth muscle cell embryonic origin on TGF - beta signaling during thoracic aortic aneurysm formation. Click here read the most recent manuscript. 
  • CV-RPA Projects that Received NIH KYNETIC Product Development Awards

    The Kentucky Network for Innovation and Commercialization (KYNETIC), funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced that five of the seven projects recently awarded $50,000 to bring their innovations toward product development are from the University of Kentucky. These projects include:
    • Therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease (Ronald Bruntz, Department of Biochemistry)
    • Therapeutic for liver disease (Scott Gordon, Saha Cardiovascular Research Center)
    • Bone biopsy device (Clay Larkin, Department of Internal Medicine)
    • Therapeutic to reduce cardiac inflammation following a heart attack (Vincent Venditto, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences)
    • Non-addictive therapeutic for pain (Fang Zheng, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences)

      This is a fast-paced, product-focused grant designed for researchers to quickly determine the viability of their product. Each project has six months to make progress toward their milestones in order to be eligible for additional KYNETIC funding. A significant benefit of the program is that awardees work closely with KYNETIC project managers to stay on track, review outcomes and discuss future milestones. Further, an external review board (ERB) provides valuable feedback based on their experience as industry, investment and commercialization experts. See their website for more information and Cycle 3 due dates. 

September 2020

Award Recipients
  • Han Ly, BS: recipient of an American Heart Association predoctoral fellowship
    Mentor: Florin Despa, PhD
    Project Title: Role of diabetes -associated amylin dyshomeostasis in stroke.
  • Daugherty Appointed to Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation Scientific Board
    Alan Daugherty, PhD, DSc, Senior Associate Dean for Research at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, has been selected to serve as chair of Scientific Committee of the Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation, an organization that trains medical students to be leaders in cardiovascular science and medicine. Read the rest of the story here
Featured Research
  • The University of Kentucky's Alliance Initiative capitalizes on collaboration and the transdisciplinary strategy built from the best practices and metrics across the nation in developing programmatic research. It is designed to provide seed funding and support for multidisciplinary teams of scientists, from colleges and centers across the University’s campus, to find answers to the health challenges that disproportionately affect Kentuckians. The CV-RPA is part of three Alliance Initiatives, the second Alliance we would like to feature is the Transdisciplinary Implementation Science Alliance (TISA) led by Dr. Jing Li (Lead Chair), Dr. Jerod Stapleton, Dr. Gretchen Wells.

    TISA includes two key components—a proposed study targeting Cardio-Oncology practice research which aims for subsequent extramural funding (R01 or equivalent) submission, and establishment of a transdisciplinary implementation team at UK that will increase resources to: build an Implementation Science (IS) network, mentor junior faculty, and pursue federal grant funding. The TISA team innovatively integrates two research priority areas (RPAs) as defined in the University Vice President for Research (VPR’s) strategic initiative: cardiovascular sciences and oncology sciences. Cardiovascular toxicities from chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted or hormonal treatments interfere with optimal cancer management, decrease quality of life, and affect overall survival. TISA leverages two of UK’s strongest resources—Markey Cancer Center and Gill Heart and Vascular Center, by proposing a much needed, innovative platform that integrates research and fosters multidisciplinary collaboration to tackle gaps in our knowledge and ultimately improve both cancer- and cardiovascular-related health outcomes in this growing population. TISA co-chairs have had meetings with the RPA leadership and obtained their letters of support. Among currently identified junior faculty, there are several in either the Markey Center or Cardiology who will receive mentoring in conducting IS research and plan to pursue National Cancer Institute and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute IS Funding Opportunity Announcements. All TISA educational sessions and collaborative events will be coordinated with Cancer and Cardiovascular RPAs. Follow the Alliance Research Initiatives here

August 2020

Featured Research
  • UK’s Superfund Research Center Receives $8.7 Million!

    The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has awarded the University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center (UK-SRC) a five-year grant to conduct research aimed at better understanding and minimizing the negative health and environmental impacts of chlorinated organic compounds found at Superfund sites across the Commonwealth and the U.S. Funded by the National Institutes of Health's NIEHS Superfund Research Program since 1997, the UK-SRC integrates multidisciplinary research, training and community engagement around a common theme: reducing risks posed by environmental contaminants in vulnerable communities. Read more here

  • Jeremy Wood (College of Medicine) Dissecting the Underlying Mechanisms of Hemostatic Dysregulation in COVID-19 Patients

    Dr Wood also recently presented on Harvard's Blood and Bone Seminar Series. Click the link below to watch his presentation on coagulation and thrombosis in Covid-19 patients. #GillKentucky, #CVRC, #BloodandBone https://youtu.be/zlXrUtrqMZA

Award Recipients
  • Zheying Chen, BSF30 NRSA Fellowship
    Mentor: Alan Daugherty, PhD, DSc.
    Project Title: Mechanisms of Renin Angiotensin Modulation in Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms.

July 2020

Award Recipients
  • Sidney W. Whiteheart, PhD has been awarded an R35 Outstanding Investigator Award from NIH for seven years of flexible funding to understand regulation of platelet secretion and signaling pathway responsible for platelet activation.  Dr. Whiteheart has been continuously funded by NIH since 1996. Read more about the research here.
  • Brooke Ahern, BS has received a predoctoral fellowships from AHA for her project entitled: Myocardial Rad Modulation of the L-type Calcium Channel Provides Cardioprotection. (Mentor:  Jonathan Satin, PhD)