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Release: Feb. 19, 2001

UI researchers receive $10.7 million NIH grant to continue hypertension research

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health has awarded the University of Iowa a five-year, $10.7 million grant for its Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) on the Molecular Genetics of Hypertension.

The competitive award, which became effective Feb. 1, will enable researchers at the UI Cardiovascular Research Center to continue studies on the genetic basis of hypertension.

Curt D. Sigmund, Ph.D., associate professor in the UI Department of Internal Medicine Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, will serve as the program director. Sigmund also holds a faculty appointment in the UI Department of Physiology and Biophysics and is director of the UI Transgenic Animal Facility and the Center on Functional Genomics of Hypertension.

The program involves collaboration among 15 faculty from six departments with collaborators and consultants at nine other institutions across the country. Project leaders include UI researchers Val C. Sheffield, M.D., Ph.D., John Stokes, M.D., Peter Snyder, M.D., Robin L. Davisson, Ph.D., Allyn L. Mark, M.D., and Sigmund.

Themes of the research program are to determine molecular and physiologic mechanisms of genetic hypertension in humans and experimental animals. All of the projects address one or more of the three basic goals of the SCOR program: mapping and identification of disease-causing genes; mechanistic studies on the consequences of genetic variation; and molecular genetic studies on basic mechanisms of normal and altered blood pressure control.

The primary goal of the program is to identify genes involved in blood pressure and related phenotypes by examining specific human populations and by taking advantage of the similarity of genomes between animals and humans. Other projects will focus on the molecular biology and genetics of salt-sensitive hypertension, the effects of hypertension on cardiac hypertrophy, and the mechanisms of obesity-induced hypertension. Sigmund’s project will examine how abnormal expression of renin-angiotensin system genes in the kidney and brain cause hypertension.

The UI investigators expect to understand more clearly the genetic and acquired causes of hypertension in the hope of eliminating this high risk for cardiovascular diseases.

"We are very proud of Dr. Curt Sigmund and his colleagues for developing this program as a model of interdepartmental research and for achieving the highest ranking among national centers in hypertension research," said Francois M. Abboud, Edith King Professor and Head of the UI Department of Internal Medicine. "Dr. Sigmund's outstanding leadership of this center continues a strong tradition of state-of-the-art research in hypertension, which began under the directorship of Dr. Michael J. Brody and Dr. Allyn L. Mark."

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.