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February 2004 Issue

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Longest Running Training Grant in US Renewed

Published February 2004

Top researcher Karyn L. Butler, MD, joins UC’s faculty to train future molecular cardio-biology investigators

The UC College of Medicine recently received confirmation that the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has once again renewed the longest running training grant in the country sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for research in biochemical and molecular cardiovascular sciences. The principal investigator for the grant is Arnold Schwartz, PhD, D.Sci (Hon), FACC, FAHA, director and professor of the Institute for Molecular Pharmacology and Biophysics, and professor of Surgery. Dr. Schwartz was awarded funding for the original training grant at UC in 1978. It has been continuously renewed ever since, and will go to the 31-year mark at completion of the five-year award.

The most recent five-year grant award totals over $3 million, which will be used to recruit and train researchers across disciplines and in diverse areas under the general category of cardiovascular sciences. Such training grants are important ways to give young investigators hands-on research experience working with world-class researchers at a major institution. The goal is for these newly trained post-doctoral students to remain in research, and go on to successful careers in academic institutions. Many graduates of this training program are professors and chairs in the U.S. and abroad.

Dr. Claude Lenfant, who recently retired as director of the NHLBI, recognized Dr. Schwartz’s decades-long success in obtaining grants for this type of training.

“The NHLBI is pleased to be able to award the renewal of this training grant to Dr. Schwartz, as it has been one of the longest and most successful of such programs supported by the Institute,” he said. “It is a tribute to Dr. Schwartz’s spectacular interest in developing young scientists.”

Karyn L. Butler, MD, is one of the new faculty members who has joined UC as associate professor in the Division of Trauma Surgery and the Institute for Molecular Pharmacology and Biophysics, and a faculty member of the NHLBI cardio-biology training grant. She is a graduate of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Her main research interest focuses on the signaling mechanisms involved in cardio-protective strategies. Dr. Butler studies how the heart protects itself from injury due to ischemia (angina). She is a recipient of a Clinical Mentored (K-08) NIH award and Dr. Schwartz is the mentor.

“Training grants, such as this one, are important to increase the pool of researchers in molecular cardio-biology,” said Dr. Butler. “Many students have misconceptions about research, and believe that it is isolated from actual clinical practice. Here at UC College of Medicine, there is a close interface between science and patient care. Students realize that research will be used for the benefit of patients.”

As a faculty member, Dr. Butler trains post-doctoral students, and interested surgical residents who participate actively in her research.

“As an African-American woman, and a female clinician-scientist, I can serve as a role model and mentor to under-represented students who want to pursue a career in biomedical research,” Dr. Butler said.

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