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University of Utah Wins $16M for Molecular and Translational Science Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of Utah Department of Medicine has been awarded $16 million from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to fund interdisciplinary studies that delve into the molecular and cellular causes of blood clots.

The funding will support the University's Molecular Medicine Translational Research Center in Thrombosis, which will use the funding for basic and clinical science efforts to discover and test new diagnostic, preventative, and therapeutic interventions for thrombosis, the university said yesterday.

Andrew Weyrich, a professor of medicine at the university and principal investigator on the grant, said the university has expertise in platelets and blood cells, which play a central part in clotting in diabetes and metabolic syndrome patients and in thrombosis research in general.

The Molecular Medicine Translational Research Center last month launched its research programs, which are aimed at finding out how factors in blood and tissues, such as high levels of glucose and lipids, can cause molecular changes that make platelets more likely to induce clotting.

"Metabolic stress, inflammation, bleeding, and clotting have been major influences in human evolution, and now they've also become major contributors to modern disorders, including diabetes, obesity, and their complications," Guy Zimmerman, co-principal investigator on the grant and associate chair for research at the university's Department of Medicine, said in a statement.

Zimmerman said the new center, which he and Weyrich will direct, "will address key gaps in our knowledge in each of these areas, and bring unparalleled expertise to bear on unknown aspects of how platelets contribute to clotting and inflammation in metabolic diseases."

Two of the center's projects will focus on the molecular features of platelets that lead to thrombosis in knockout mice, and two related projects will focus on platelet functions that promote thrombosis in patients with diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.

The university also said the center will contain core programs to support investigators, including a core focused on fostering the careers of junior researches and providing infrastructure for developing these scientists' translational research skills.

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