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Penn Med Researcher's $6 Million Grant for Cardiovascular Disease Study

January 18, 2011, Volume 57, No. 18


An international team of researchers led by Dr. Daniel J. Rader, associate director of Penn Medicine’s Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, has received a $6 million grant from the Paris-based Leducq Foundation to study the molecular genetics of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The team’s proposal, “Molecular Mechanisms of Novel Genes Associated with Plasma Lipids and Cardiovascular Disease,” was selected to receive the award through the Foundation’s Transatlantic Networks of Excellence Program.

The investigation will focus on determining the molecular mechanisms of some of the most compelling genes to come out of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for coronary heart disease and heart attack. Specifically, the research team will study six novel genes—found by GWAS to be associated with heart disease—in order to rigorously assess their function in physiological processes associated with cardiovascular disease and whether or not they are viable targets for future therapeutic developments.

The multidisciplinary, international research team includes experts in epidemiology, human genetics, molecular and cell biology and animal physiology. In addition to identifying new potential therapeutic targets, this research program will also establish an infrastructure for the systematic evaluation of future GWAS results in the area of cardiovascular disease.

The award is funded through the Foundation’s Transatlantic Networks of Excellence Program. Each research network receives $6 million over five years to support a collaborative research program involving European and North American investigators.

In addition to Dr. Rader, other scientists involved in the study include: European Coordinator: Dr. Christian Weber, Aachen University, Germany; and members: Dr. Endre Kiss-Toth, University of Sheffield, UK; Dr. Thomas Quertermous, Stanford Cardiovascular Medicine; Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital; Dr. Mason Freeman, Massachusetts General Hospital; Dr. Heiko Runz, University of Heidelberg, Germany; Dr. Rainer Pepperkok, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Germany; Dr. John Danesh, University of Cambridge, UK; Dr. Robert Hegele, University of Western Ontario, Canada; Dr. Ronald Krauss, University of California, Berkeley; Dr. Marju Orho-Melander, Lund University, Sweden; and Dr. Ira Tabas, Columbia University.

The Leducq Foundation is dedicated to improving human health through international efforts to combat cardiovascular disease.


Almanac - January 18, 2011, Volume 57, No. 18