Two more VISP students have been selected as recipients of American Heart Association (AHA) Pre-doctoral Fellowships beginning in Fall 2015.
Ankita Burman is a fourth year student in the lab of Dr. Tim Blackwell, M.D. Ankita studies Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), which is a fatal lung disease where progressive matrix deposition in the lung disrupts its structure and function. Many IPF patients develop Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) that worsens their disease symptoms and increases mortality. No effective treatments have yet been discovered because the disease mechanisms are not well-understood. She is studying the molecular mechanisms underlying these associated diseases. Specifically, Ankita is investigating the role of local tissue hypoxia (low oxygen concentration) and hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) signaling in lung fibrosis. Our studies may reveal HIF and downstream targets of HIF to be important therapeutic targets in IPF and PH.
Kim Montaniel is a second year student in the lab of Dr. David Harrison, M.D. Kim studies the role of microRNAs in hypertension. Specifically, he is examining the possibility of using miRNA inhibitors as potential therapeutics in the treatment of hypertension and consequent end-organ damage. This is very important as the end-organ damage caused by hypertension is often irreversible.
These fellowships guarantee two years of external funding, including tuition and stipend support. Since the inception of the Vanderbilt International Scholar Program, five VISP students have been awarded AHA fellowships.