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University of Iowa News Release


May 12, 2011

Abboud receives $4 million training grant renewal for Cardiovascular Research Center

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has granted the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine a five-year, $4 million Institutional National Research Service Award renewal.

Initiated in 1974 under the direction of Francois M. Abboud, M.D., the Edith King Pearson Chair in Cardiovascular Research and professor of internal medicine and molecular physiology and biophysics, the training grant is one of the longest continuously funded programs of its kind in the nation. The funding supports stipends and research expenses of young medical doctors and research scientists for two or three years of research training with the goal of preparing them for careers as leading cardiovascular researchers and/or physician/scientists.

The award is the seventh competitive renewal of the Interdisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Fellowship to the UI Cardiovascular Research Center. It will extend the program's continuous NIH funding through its 41st year and bring total funding for this program to over $26 million.

Abboud, who also is the director of the UI Cardiovascular Research Center, continues to direct the program and attributes its long-standing success to the dedication and foresight of UI faculty past and present.

"Without the vision of Dr. John W. Eckstein, who was dean of the College of Medicine in 1974, and the collaboration of the late Dr. Michael J. Brody, who was co-director of training, the inception of this grant would not have been possible," Abboud said. "Today, we have outstanding co-directors that include Dr. Mark E. Anderson, currently head of the Department of Internal Medicine, and program director of the International Research Foundation Leducq Consortium; Dr. Donald Heistad, who is deputy director of the Cardiovascular Research Center and has served as co-director of the training grant for over 15 years; and Dr. Curt Sigmund, currently head of the Department of Pharmacology and director of the UI Center on the Functional Genomics of Hypertension. They provide the oversight of recruitment, of program evaluation and of graduate course requirements respectively."

Since its inception, the program has provided opportunities for young researchers to be exposed to diverse research disciplines in the clinical and basic sciences. Over the past 36 years, more than 500 cardiovascular scientists and cardiologists have received research training through this program. According to Abboud, the majority of these trainees are now established scientists and cardiologists, who are leaders in cardiovascular research in academia or industry.

"The NHLBI has long supported training and career development programs in cardiovascular research, as part of the NIH's commitment to encourage and guide young scientists as they pursue their careers," said Jane Scott, Sc.D., M.S.N., director of the Office of Research Training and Career Development, in the NHLBI's Division of Cardiovascular Sciences. "The program at the University of Iowa reflects this commitment. Dr. Abboud's stewardship over the past 36 years has fostered an environment where research trainees can continue to grow and contribute to the current and future needs of cardiovascular research."

The NIH grant supports 15 postdoctoral research trainees each year. Areas of research in cardiovascular training include membrane biology and ion channels, integrative neurobiology of cardiovascular regulation, vascular biology and hypertension. Core resources at the UI support these multidisciplinary research themes and include the Transgenic Animal Facility, Gene Transfer Vector Core, Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, and the Center for Gene Therapy of Cystic Fibrosis and Other Genetic Diseases.

More than 25 senior established investigators from several different departments in the UI Carver College of Medicine and other UI colleges including Public Health, Engineering and Liberal Arts and Sciences assume responsibility for mentoring researchers for periods of one to three years.

"It is very difficult to quantify the impact of our graduates on cardiovascular health in the nation," Abboud said. "We are certain, however, that they have contributed to the 60 percent decline in cardiovascular mortality and the increase in life expectancy in the United States from 68.0 to 78.4 years during the time span of this grant."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Media Relations, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room W317 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-356-7124,