Despite significant advancements in our understanding and management of diabetes, it remains one of the most potent independent risk factors for the development of cardiovascular complications, with up to 80% of patients dying from such complications. We seek to define a novel molecular mechanism by which the signaling pathway mediated by the ligand apelin and the cell surface receptor APJ can protect against the endothelial dysfunction in diabetes, which remains a key element of the vascular complications from the disease.
What area of diabetes research does your project cover? What role will this particular project play in preventing, treating and/or curing diabetes?
Cardiovascular complications continue to remain as key morbidities in patients with type 2 diabetes, with up to 80% of patients ultimately succumbing to these complications. Despite advancements in our understanding of the mechanisms of the cardiovascular complications, there remain a paucity of effective treatments that improve the cardiovascular outcomes in this patient population. This project will identify novel mechanisms by which diabetic patients may be predisposed to developing these cardiovascular complications, and ultimately identify novel therapeutic targets to improve the clinical outcomes and lives of these patients.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
This project will pursue mechanisms by which the blood vessels in diabetic patients behave abnormally, and identify signaling molecules that may play key roles in this process. Such findings will lead to better understanding of the reasons why diabetic patients are so much more susceptible to developing diseases of the blood vessels.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
As a cardiologist who is involved in not only scientific research but also in direct patient care, I am too often faced with patients who suffer from various cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery disease and heart attacks. I feel that it is imperative to better understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie the cardiovascular complications associated with type 2 diabetes. This way, we will be able to identify novel targets for potential therapies that will decrease the cardiovascular disease burden for those afflicted with diabetes, and improve the quality of their lives.
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
I anticipate that the future of diabetes research will involve identifying therapeutic targets that can not only improve parameters such as insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, but actually lead to significant improvements in clinical outcomes, such as decreased cardiovascular morbidities and mortalities.