The cardiovascular researcher Professor Robson Augusto Souza dos Santos of the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, has been awarded the Georg Forster Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH). The award will enable him to intensify his longstanding cooperation with Professor Michael Bader and his research group at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC). Robson Santos will come this year and next year to the MDC for research stays lasting several months. The award is endowed with EUR 60 000.
Professor Robson Santos' research focuses on angiotensin peptides. These are part of an intricate system of hormones and enzymes known as the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which regulates the water and salt balance of the body as well as blood pressure. The angiotensins are hormones that have great influence on the regulation of the cardiovascular system and play a role in the onset of hypertension and cardiovascular and kidney diseases. Drugs that inhibit the activity of angiotensins are among the most successful treatment options for these diseases.
In 1988, during a research stay at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, Robson Santos discovered a novel angiotensin peptide called Ang-(1-7). He showed that this angiotensin has a protective function and is an antagonist of angiotensin II, which causes blood pressure to rise.
Alamandine - a novel hormone in the renin-angiotensin system
In collaboration with Professor Bader at the MDC, he discovered that Ang-(1-7) plays a protective role in inflammation and cardiovascular disease and also has a protective effect on metabolic control. The collaboration of Prof. Santos and Prof. Bader has already led to the development of novel drugs for treating cardiovascular disease and also to several joint patents.
At the MDC Prof. Santos will now focus on the analysis of the functions of alamandine, another hormone of the renin-angiotensin system which he recently discovered, together with Prof. Bader.
Robson Augusto Souza dos Santos was born in Rio de Janeiro in December 1951 and studied biology and medicine in São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. He has completed various research stays in the U.S. and since 1998 has come regularly to the MDC in Berlin. Since 1984 he has been on the faculty of the renowned Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, one of the largest universities in Brazil, and became a full professor there in 2002.
Prof. Santos has earned an international reputation in his field and received numerous honors. From 2010 to 2013 he was President of the Interamerican Society of Hypertension - it encompasses both North and South America - and was President for two-year terms of the Brazilian Society of Physiology and the Brazilian Society of Hypertension. He is also a member of the Brazilian Academy of Science and of the Council for High Blood Pressure of the American Heart Association (AHA).
Georg Forster - universal scholar and revolutionary
The research award granted to Professor Robson Santos is named after Georg Forster (1754 - 1794), one of the most eminent German universal scholars of his time. Forster sailed around the world and was a writer and revolutionary. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants the research award "in recognition of a researcher's entire achievements to date" whose "fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline".
The Mexican biologist and immunologist Dr. Lorena Gómez-García of the Mexican National Institute of Cardiology (Instituto Nacional de Cardiologia) in Mexico City is also currently working in the laboratory of Professor Bader. She received a research fellowship of the AvH which is likewise named after Georg Forster.
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)
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