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University of Iowa researchers receive $5.5 million grant award

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa College of Medicine researchers have been awarded a five-year $5.8 million grant to continue study of the role of fat in the development and prevention of heart attack and stroke.

The grant, awarded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, is a renewal of the program project grant originally funded in 1992. Now, as then, the grant is designed to help the researchers understand how fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides contribute to atherosclerosis and the diseases that it causes, particularly heart attack and stroke. During the first five-year period of the grant, significant progress was made in understanding the role of fat in the development of cardiovascular disease. The renewal will allow a continuation of those studies, says Dr. Arthur Spector, professor and interim head of the UI department of biochemistry and the grant's principal investigator.

The grant contains four projects designed to investigate different aspects of how fat may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease at the cellular and biochemical levels as well as in the functioning coronary artery.

Spector is the leader of project 1, which is designed to understand how polyunsaturated fats and their byproducts affect the cells of blood vessels.

Dr. F. Jeffrey Field, UI professor of internal medicine in the gastroenterology division is project 2 leader. His group will examine how dietary fat gets from the intestine into the bloodstream.

Project 3, led by Dr. David Chappell, UI associate professor of internal medicine in the cardiology and endocrine divisions, will concentrate on how lipid particles are removed from the bloodstream. Build up of fats in the blood puts people at risk for cardiovascular disease.

The fourth project, led by Dr. Neal Weintraub, UI assistant professor of internal medicine in the cardiology division, will test the findings of the first three projects in the coronary artery.

Thus, the grant proposes to examine various aspects of fat contribution to cardiovascular disease from cell biology and biochemistry to the physiology of coronary circulation.