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May 16, 2011 - Dr. Thomas Lincoln Awarded Research Grant
Dr. Thomas Lincoln, professor and chair of physiology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, continues to search for ways to improve the care for patients living with inflammatory vascular disorders. His efforts were recently funded through a three-year research grant by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) totaling $1,113,750.

Dr. Lincoln’s research focuses on inflammatory vascular disorders. One of the major threats this disorder causes is atherosclerosis, a condition in which an artery wall thickens as the result of the build-up of fatty materials. According to Dr. Lincoln, atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases account for more deaths in the United States than any other cause.

This research project looks at the process that leads to the development of plaque in arteries. The hypothesis is that the inflammation in the vascular system causes the signaling pathway to become disrupted, leading to atherosclerosis.

The research team has previously identified a factor that suppressed an enzyme known as PKG, a key component of the signaling pathway. Dr. Lincoln explained that cells rid themselves of material not wanted. However, sometimes the cell also rids itself of PKG, which leads to inflammation. “Our lab was one of the first to demonstrate that inflammation does indeed suppress this signaling pathway,” Dr. Lincoln said. “We are the first to study this connection as a potential target for treating inflammation.”

Dr. Lincoln said this project is important because of our exposure to things that lead to vascular inflammation – such as viruses and foods that can cause high cholesterol. Over time, these insults can lead to heart attacks and strokes. “This project seeks to better understand the root of the problems that lead to vascular diseases/inflammation and develop targets for drug therapy.”

Dr. Lincoln has been funded by NIH for 30 years consecutively. “Science develops knowledge that translates into better medical care,” he said. “Basic research is both a catalyst for improving care and stimulating the economy.”

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