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Release: Immediate

Cardiovascular Research Center receives $7.3 grant from NIH

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $7.3 million grant to study the integrative neurobiology of cardiovascular regulation to Dr. Francois Abboud, head of the University of Iowa department of internal medicine and director of the UI Cardiovascular Research Center.

Calling the 26-year-old program "unique" because of its investigative focus on basic mechanisms involved in cardiovascular regulation, the NHLBI announcement concludes by saying that the program is "recommended with outstanding enthusiasm."

Abboud, Edith King Pearson Professor of Cardiovascular Research, professor of physiology and biophysics, and head of the department of internal medicine, has directed the Cardiovascular Research Center since its inception in 1972.

"This grant is yet another indication of the high esteem in which our cardiovascular researchers are held," says Dr. Robert P. Kelch, dean of the UI College of Medicine. "The UI Cardiovascular Research Center is truly at the forefront of making new discoveries about the heart, the lungs and the circulatory system."

Calling the approval "extremely gratifying," Abboud cited two reasons for the program's recent renewal and longevity. "This work is interdisciplinary in nature, with top investigators in 6 UI departments involved in our center," he says. "And the work of investigators incorporates state-of-the-art research techniques that range from molecular biology to clinical studies in humans."

Among the work to be undertaken as part of the grant:

*How specialized regions of the brain sense changes in circulating factors in the blood, such as angiotensin and how this mechanism may contribute to development of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure;

*The mechanisms by which angiotensin produced in the brain regulates blood volume and pressure;

*The mechanisms responsible for abnormal regulation of the cardiovascular system and increased incidence of cardiovascular disease in obese subjects;

*The molecular and cellular mechanisms by which mechanical stretch and chemical factors influence the activity of blood pressure sensing nerves called baroreceptors;

*The roles of calcitonin-gene-related peptide (CGRP) in protecting the brain from vasospasm and stroke during subarachnoid hemorrhage and in mediating increases in heart rate and blood pressure in response to pain.

The five-year extension began on March 1 and will extend through the program's 30th anniversary in the year 2002.