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Tosa Researcher Funded to Study Compounds That May Protect the Heart

National Institutes of Health grant to Medical College will underwrite study of lipids – naturally occurring compounds that could protect millions from leading cause of death.

The in Wauwatosa has received a five-year, $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to study compounds that may protect the heart from tissue damage associated with ischemic heart disease.

Garrett John Gross, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology, is the principal investigator for the grant. Gross is a member of the Medical College’s Cardiovascular Center. 

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  Among patients with cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease produces the highest mortality. In ischemic heart disease, the heart tissue is damaged by interrupted blood flow due to blockages, often in the coronary artery.

Safeguarding the heart

In this project, Gross will research epoxyeicosatrienic acids (EETs), which are fatty acid metabolites – lipids – that have been shown in other studies to protect the hearts of dogs, rats and mice.

The lab will use animal and cellular models to investigate the mechanism by which these acids help safeguard the heart against tissue damage. In addition to demonstrating the anti-ischemic and anti-inflammatory effects of EETs, Gross will also focus on developing synthetic EETs for use in treatment.

This study will advance knowledge in the study of cardiovascular disease, and may identify new targets that could be utilized in designing improved therapies for ischemic heart disease.

A leader in national research

The Medical College of Wisconsin is the state’s only private medical school and health sciences graduate school. Founded in 1893, it is dedicated to leadership and excellence in education, patient care, research and service.

More than 1,200 students are enrolled in the Medical College’s medical school and graduate school programs. A major national research center, it is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area and second-largest in Wisconsin.

In 2010–'11, faculty received more than $175 million in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes, of which more than $161 million is for research. This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Annually, college faculty direct or collaborate on more than 2,200 research studies, including clinical trials. More than 1,350 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than 400,000 patients annually.

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