findings home/archives       contact us       other AHC publications   

December 2003 Issue

RSS feed

Ashraf Awarded Continuous Funding for Research on Treatment of Heart Attack

Published December 2003

Muhammad Ashraf, PhD, professor in the UC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, has received a prestigious MERIT award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health. MERIT awards from the NHLBI were made to only five other U.S. medical scientists in 2003. MERIT stands for Method to Extend Research in Time, and it provides funds for continuing research in the biomedical field to researchers who have earned extended support for their work. Dr. Ashraf will receive $3.5 million in funding over the next ten years. Most research awards are given over a 3 - 5 year period of time.

"This award will allow him to continue his research on the treatment of heart attack without reapplying until 2013," said Cecilia Fenoglio-Preiser, MD, professor and director of the UC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

Dr. Ashraf's research is focused on identifying therapies that prevent cell damage and death following a heart attack. One promising approach is to "precondition" the heart's intrinsic defense mechanisms to minimize or prevent permanent cell damage and tissue injury in damaged areas of the heart. Dr. Ashraf is currently exploring various therapeutic strategies, including drugs acting on key cellular targets, as a way to precondition the heart cells of patients at high risk of heart attacks. This may help them survive an otherwise fatal heart attack.

"This particular award is to investigate the regeneration of dead cardiac tissue (following a heart attack) with bone marrow-derived stem cells," Dr. Ashraf said. The focus of this research is prevention of the loss of heart muscle function during and following heart attacks, by replacing damaged heart muscle tissue with bone marrow stem cells. The stem cells have the potential to regenerate into healthy heart tissue.

 back to list | back to top