News Release

BU researcher awarded $3.7 million to study how endothelial cell health impacts disease

Grant and Award Announcement

Boston University School of Medicine

(Boston)—Naomi Hamburg, MD, the Joseph A. Vita Professor of Medicine at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, has been awarded a five-year, $3.7 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for her research study, “Endothelial Cell Health Across the Spectrum of Cardiometabolic Disease.”

 

Cardiometabolic diseases are a group of common but often preventable conditions including heart attack, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The escalating prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors including obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) presents a critical cardiovascular challenge. Individuals with cardiometabolic disease harbor greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) including accelerated vascular aging and premature blood vessel blockages. Importantly, changes in the endothelial cells that line blood vessels predate the development of clinical CVD. Endothelial cell health is a window into early heart disease risk. Getting a glimpse into endothelial cells from people has potential to help create new treatments to protect blood vessel health.

 

“Experimental studies and our prior work link altered metabolism to organelle (subcellular structure that has one or more specific jobs to perform in the cell) stress including mitochondrial dysfunction and stress. In this proposal, we hypothesize that organelle stress induced by cardiometabolic traits drives vascular dysfunction and promotes CVD,” explains Hamburg who also is chief of the vascular biology section and interim director of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute at the school.

 

This study will leverage a unique and highly experienced multidisciplinary team of investigators with expertise in obesity-related cardiovascular disease, endothelial biology, population science, translational patient-oriented research, multi-omics and bioinformatics to study endothelial cell health at an unprecedented scale. Using resources from the Framingham Heart Study, Hamburg and her team will investigate the association of T2DM and cardiometabolic traits with endothelial cells (EC) phenotype including organelle stress and nitric oxide.

 

Hamburg, also a cardiologist and vascular medicine specialist at Boston Medical Center, is a recognized expert in the field of vascular medicine and the clinical translation of vascular biology. Her research work, which seeks to understand approaches to restore vascular health in patients with cardiometabolic disorders and peripheral artery disease, and to evaluate the impact of novel tobacco products and long COVID has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health and other foundations for the past 15 years. She has developed highly innovative approaches to study endothelial cells from patients to dissect the mechanisms of disease and identify new targets for heart disease therapies.

 

Hamburg has held multiple leadership positions in the field of Vascular Medicine including the chair of the Peripheral Vascular Disease Council of the American Heart Association, and as a board member of the Society of Vascular Medicine, American Society of Echocardiography and Vascular Testing Division of the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission. She co-chaired the Advanced Training Statement on Vascular Medicine from the American College of Cardiology and the Society of Vascular Medicine.

 

She has authored more than 150 scientific papers in the peer-reviewed literature and has served on guideline writing committees. She is a past associate editor of the journal Vascular Medicine and current associate editor for Circulation Research. Hamburg is passionate about improving the care of vascular diseases and mentoring scientists and physicians.

 


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