The National Institutes of Health recently awarded School of Medicine researcher Mingui Fu, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences, a $465,000 grant to conduct a study of sepsis-induced systemic inflammation.
Fu said that when completed, his research could significantly advance scientists’ understanding of the regulatory mechanisms surrounding septic pathogenesis and identify a new therapeutic target to treat the devastating condition.
A potentially life-threatening illness, sepsis is a major health concern. It strikes nearly 700,000 people in the United States each year with a 30 percent mortality rate. A major contributor to mortality is sepsis-induced systemic inflammation followed by multi-organ injury.
Sepsis appears when infectious bacteria or other organisms enter the blood stream and cause an inflammatory immune response. There is currently no specific treatment available for sepsis.
Fu’s study will look at the essential role of a particular protein known as myeloid MCPIP1 in sepsis-induced systemic inflammation and death. It will also explore whether MCPIP1 may be a target for pharmacological therapy to improve the outcome of sepsis.
Charlie Inboriboon, M.D., associate professor of emergency medicine, will serves as a co-investigator on the study, which will also include the research efforts of School of Medicine students.
Gary Sutkin, M.D., director of the UMKC School of Medicine’s Surgical Innovations Laboratory, has received a three-year, $600,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop simulation technology that can be used to prevent surgical errors.
With magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a 3-D printer, Sutkin plans to create a high-fidelity pelvic simulator and use motion analysis to identify surgical errors involved in Midurethral Sling surgery.
Sutkin, professor of surgery, serves as associate dean for women’s health and is Victor and Caroline Shutte Endowed Chair in Women’s Health at the School of Medicine. He chose this particular surgery for his research because it is common in older women and includes a high-risk step. During the procedure, the surgeon must blindly guide a sharp, pointed steel trocar past vital structures, including the bladder, bowel, and major blood vessels.
Performed to improve quality of life, the procedure also has the potential for catastrophic outcomes.
The project will use MRI to create a virtual model of a human pelvis of a patient with reproducible stress urinary incontinence. From that, a 3-D model will be printed, assembled and tested for fidelity to human tissue.
A group of five seasoned surgeon who are experts in Midurethral Surgery and five surgeons who are novices in the procedure will perform the surgery on the model. Motion analysis will collect kinematic data of shoulder, elbow, and wrist motions. The information will be combined into a 3-D model to analyze movements that lead to the most common errors: perforation of the bladder or bowel, and injury to the external iliac veins.
Sutkin’s groundbreaking research has the potential to have a major impact on the prevention of surgical errors by minimizing patient distress and health care costs. Once successful, Sutkin said he plans to incorporate the technology into the School of Medicine’s surgical residency program and apply the approach to reducing errors in other surgeries.
Karl E. Kador, Ph.D., a researcher at the UMKC Vision Research Center, has received a nearly $2-million grant from the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health. The funding will support his work to develop a novel approach for treating patients suffering end-stage glaucoma.
This most advanced phase of glaucoma is an extremely serious condition in which very little healthy retinal tissue remains. This results in a high level of visual damage and a much greater risk of blindness.
Kador’s research focuses on injuries and diseases of the optic nerve that lead to the death of retinal ganglion cells, which connect the retina to the brain. He is using tissue engineering to develop methods of transplanting new cells to replace those dead cells. The aim is to restore vision to patients suffering end-stage glaucoma and other eye disorders.
Kador’s NIH grant will be fully funded at $1,937,500 for a five-year period beginning May 1, 2018.
“The NIH R01 grant is widely considered the gold standard for outstanding biomedical research,” said Peter Koulen, Ph.D., Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research and co-director of the Vision Research Center. “Dr. Kador’s grant adds significantly to the national recognition and growth of our ongoing research programs at UMKC School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Research Center. These programs have been continually NIH-funded since 2009.”
An assistant professor of ophthalmology and biomedical sciences, Kador joined the School of Medicine and the Vision Research Center last March. Koulen said receiving this major NIH funding is an outstanding achievement in light of the difficult funding climate for researchers. He also noted that the grant comes less than a year after Kador joined the UMKC research faculty.
“Dr. Kador’s program, recognized by this highly competitive NIH support, brings the promise for groundbreaking and highly impactful research to Kansas City,” Koulen said. “But also, and more importantly, it brings renewed hope for our patients and the communities we serve.”
Nelson Sabates, M.D., chair of the UMKC Department of Ophthalmology and founder of the Vision Research Center, said there is an urgent need for enhanced research such as Kador’s to battle the adverse effects of glaucoma and similar eye diseases.
“A significant number of people suffer from glaucoma and other debilitating eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy,” Sabates said. “Dr. Kador and his efforts in tissue engineering are another example of the novel work taking place at the Vision Research Center that will benefit individuals in our community and worldwide.”
The program at the Vision Research Center also aligns with the mission of the UMKC Health Sciences District, a cooperative of 12 neighboring health care institutions on Hospital Hill. Formed in 2017, the partnership supports research, grants, community outreach and shared wellness for employees, faculty, students and surrounding neighborhoods.
John Wang, M.D., Ph.D., endowed chair and professor of anesthesiology, received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health to continue his ongoing research that could one day lead to novel pharmacotherapies and the treatments of some symptoms of depression.
The grant of more than $1.8 million extends five years to continue his study of Molecular Regulation of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors in Striatal Neurons. Wang began his study of drug addiction aiming to unravel brain mechanisms for enduring drug seeking behavior. Recently, he expanded his interest into another neuropsychiatric disorder, depression. The new grant will enable his research team to investigate the participation of glutamatergic transmission in the pathogenesis of depression.
Wang, who joined the School of medicine in 2004 as the Westport Anesthesia/Missouri Endowed Chair in Anesthesia research, has focused much of his research career on the role a chemical neurotransmitter located in the brain known as glutamate plays in various mental illnesses, including depression and drug addiction.
The current study seeks to define the role of glutamate and its receptors in the molecular development and the symptoms of depression and advance the understanding of how the glutamate receptors are regulated.