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Two CCM Faculty Awarded Grants from UPP Foundation

Tue, 09/13/2016

Sherry H-Y. Chou, MD, M.MSc, FNCS, Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, and A. Murat Kaynar, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine and Anesthesiology, were each recently awarded highly competitive, one-year $50,000 grants from the University of Pittsburgh Physicians (UPP)/UPMC Academic Foundation. Both grants took effect on July 1, 2016.

Sherry H-Y Chou

Chou’s research, “Ultra-mild Therapeutic Hypothermia to Reduce Early Brain Injury following Subarachnoid Hemorrhage,“ targets Early Brain Injury (EBI), the injury to the brain that occurs immediately after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a particularly debilitating type of stroke. Although EBI has been shown to be the most important determinant of mortality after SAH, it is currently without a therapy. In previous research, Chou identified a few potential mechanistic biomarkers associated with poor outcome in SAH. With this grant, Chou will conduct a randomized, open-label clinical trial (RCT) to determine the safety and short- and long-term efficacy of treating patients with 48 hours of ultra-mild hypothermia (UTH), which has been shown to reduce these biomarkers.

“I am very pleased to be receiving this UPP grant,” said Chou. “I hope our work will lay the foundation for new therapies that can improve survival and reduce disability in SAH patients.”

Kaynar's Research Team
(From L to R) Veli Bakalov, MD; Kaynar; Laura Reyes, MD; and Anh Nguyen

Kaynar’s grant, “Aerobic Glycolysis and Long-Term Outcomes from Sepsis,” will support his research into identifying the molecular mechanisms involved in sepsis survival. He and his research team developed a model of “surviving sepsis” in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, which contains certain inherent advantages for its use in investigating some of the pathologies of sepsis. Their model replicated what has been observed in humans who have survived sepsis, in particular their shortened life expectancy and increased risk for morbidity. The flies surviving sepsis also had altered glycolytic activities, closely mimicking the aerobic glycolysis (“Warburg effect”) seen in malignant cells. When the research team modified the metabolic balance from aerobic glycolysis back to oxidative phosphorylation, the flies lived significantly longer. Their observation led to this UPP grant, which will help to identify the molecular mechanisms linking metabolic regulation of inflammation. Kaynar will then translate the findings to other models, in the hopes of opening the path for new clinical trials.

“I am very excited to be selected for funding,” said Kaynar, “and hope to expand our understanding of the role of metabolism driving sustained inflammation after sepsis with the support of the UPP Foundation grant.”