A collaborative team led by Dr. Gabriel Haddad at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), which includes Sanford-Burnham’s Dr. Rolf Bodmer, Dr. Pilar Ruiz-Lozano, Dr. Karen Ocorr and Dr. Giovanni Paternostro, was awarded a $10 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. The team will research the molecular response to low oxygen levels – a condition known as hypoxia– in heart, lung and brain cells.
“This funding will allow us to develop powerful predictions of how the human heart and other organs can be protected from hypoxia-inflicted injury by studying both fruit flies, which are very tolerant to low oxygen, and mice, which are less tolerant,” explains Dr. Bodmer, professor and director of Sanford-Burnham’s Development and Aging Program.
According to Dr. Paternostro, adjunct assistant professor, ”This grant will allow us to continue our work on the systems biology and metabolomics of hypoxia, an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Haddad and with the other scientists participating in the funded project.”
A person’s oxygen levels can vary normally during exercise, altitude change or other conditions. In hypoxia, however, the body (or parts of the body) lacks the oxygen necessary for normal function. Hypoxia can damage organs, such as the heart and brain, following heart attack or stroke.
“Understanding the molecular, cellular and genetic mechanisms that contribute to low oxygen tolerance or susceptibility will have a major impact on our treatments of central nervous system and cardiorespiratory diseases such as stroke, myocardial ischemia/infarction, obstructive sleep apnea and pulmonary hypertension,” says Dr. Haddad, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the UCSD School of Medicine and physician-in-chief at Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego.