Published September 21, 2017
Umesh Sharma, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, has received a five-year, $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study galectin-3, a protein involved in heart failure.
Sharma hypothesizes that an excess of this protein during a heart attack promotes myocardial inflammation and fibrosis, the formation of fibrous tissue in the heart.
His research is focused on finding a way to block the protein so as to inhibit inflammation, reduce fibrosis and preserve cardiac function.
“Dr. Sharma’s project will focus on preclinical studies to understand the role of galectin-3 in modulating post-myocardial infarction remodeling. The approach he and his colleagues have developed to modulate fibrosis using a novel peptide could ultimately be translated to patient care to prevent the progression of heart failure,” explains Canty.
The grant was awarded under the NIH K08 program, which was established to help promising young physician-scientists develop into independent investigators and to aid in filling the academic faculty gap in certain fields.
“We are delighted that he is receiving the prestigious K08 career mentored development award, which will catalyze his path to research independence,” says Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and toxicology and senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion.
The program builds on the NIH’s KL2 Mentored Career Development Award, which UB received in 2015 along with the prestigious Clinical and Translational Science Award.
“Dr. Sharma has benefited from and also contributed greatly to the physician-scientists faculty mentored career development program established under the umbrella of the Clinical and Translational Science Award and our Community of Scholars,” emphasizes Dubocovich, who is principal investigator and lead of the KL2 Mentored Career Development Award and director of the CTSI’s Workforce Development core.
“Developing the next generation of physician-scientists has been a key goal for the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine,” emphasizes Canty, who is deputy director of CTSI.
The basic studies Sharma will pursue complement clinical research he has performed as a CTSI Scholar, which has focused on evaluating circulating galectin-3 levels as a biomarker for the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
His initial training was supported through the Buffalo Translational Consortium, which his mentors say underscores the bench-to-bedside nature of his translational research program.