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2011 MU Pilot Grant Award Recipients


MU Pilot Grant Awards Catalyze Clinical and Translational Research


Funding benefits projects in medicine, veterinary medicine, agriculture and environmental sciences

The University of Missouri Institute for Clinical and Translational Science recognized recipients of its 2011 pilot grant awards during a ceremony held August 24, 2011, in the MU School of Medicine. From finding new ways to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease to identifying how the body processes sugar, the awards support research projects that hold the promise of becoming lifesaving products, services and practices. "The 2011 pilot-grant funded research programs are based in many different schools across campus, but they are all focused on ultimately improving human health," said Jamal Ibdah, MD, PhD, director of the MU Institute for Clinical and Translational Science and medical school senior associate dean for research. "MU is very fortunate to have a rich culture of collaboration to help these scientists realize the lifesaving potential of their discoveries."

Recipients of this year's nearly $120,000 in pilot award funding included faculty members and students from MU's School of Medicine; College of Veterinary Medicine; College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; and College of Human Environmental Sciences. Pilot grants are awarded to projects that display scientific excellence; are relevant to clinical and translational science; demonstrate interdisciplinary or collaborative participation; and show evidence of innovation and transformational potential. Since 2008, the MU Institute for Clinical and Translational Science has provided the funding awards to medical students, graduate students, and postdoctoral trainees for the pursuit of educational research projects, as well as to faculty members pursuing new studies. 


The 2011 recipients, selected through a peer-review process, are:

  • Susan Nagel, PhD, principal investigator and assistant professor, obstetrics, gynecology and women's health, School of Medicine. Nagel will study global DNA methylation profiles in women with and without endometriosis. Through her study of DNA profiles, she hopes to identify targets for a non-invasive test that could make it easier to diagnose the disease in the future.

  • Craig Emter, PhD, principal investigator and assistant professor, biomedical sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, and medical pharmacology and physiology, School of Medicine. Along with Christopher Baines, PhD, Emter has created a model of compensatory heart failure to study a new therapeutic use for Debio 025, a drug now in the second phase of clinical trials for use in patients with Hepatitis C. Emter's lab will study whether Debio 025 can improve mitochondrial function, a key regulator in the function of heart muscle cells known as cardiomyocytes. Emter seeks to slow cardiomyocyte death, which leads to the progression of heart failure. Emter's collaborators include William Fay, MD, professor of internal medicine and medical pharmacology and physiology, Kerry McDonald, PhD, professor of medical pharmacology and physiology, and Maike Krenz, MD, assistant professor of medical pharmacology and physiology. Baines is also collaborating with Robert Balaban, PhD, principal investigator at the Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and David Brown, PhD, associate professor of physiobiology in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

    • Christopher Baines, PhD, co-principal investigator and assistant professor, biomedical sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine

  • Jaume Padilla, PhD, principal investigator and postdoctoral fellow, biomedical sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine. During exercise, blood flow through the arteries increases. Padilla will study how increased blood flow and the resulting shear stress on the arterial walls improves overall blood vessel health. Padilla theorizes that if overall health of the blood vessel wall can be improved through exercise, then the risk can be reduced for atherosclerosis, a common disorder that can cause plaque build up in the walls of medium and large arteries. Padilla's collaborators include M. Harold Laughlin, PhD, professor and chair of biomedical sciences, Paul Fadel, PhD, assistant professor of medical pharmacology and physiology, and John Sullivan, PhD, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue University.

  • Tim Heden, principal investigator and doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, a department administered by the MU School of Medicine, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and College of Human Environmental Sciences. Along with Jill Kanaley, PhD, and John Thyfault, PhD, Heden will test the hypothesis that a single, one-hour period of aerobic exercise prior to fructose ingestion lowers blood lipid levels after fructose ingestion. He also will determine the mechanism of how this occurs. Given that physical inactivity and fructose consumption have exploded in the American lifestyle and are linked with metabolic disease, Heden and his colleagues believe that it is clinically important that the molecular mechanism by which exercise reduces an individual's susceptibility to fructose induced metabolic dysfunction be established.

    • Jill Kanaley, PhD, co-principal investigator, professor and associate chair, nutrition and exercise physiology, School of Medicine, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and College of Human Environmental Sciences

    • John Thyfault, PhD, co-principal investigator and associate professor, nutrition and exercise physiology, School of Medicine, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and College of Human Environmental Sciences, and internal medicine, School of Medicine






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