Research News

Sharma receives $1 million to study heart failure after a heart attack

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published August 10, 2017

Umesh C. Sharma

A UB researcher studying a protein involved in heart failure has received a five-year, $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The grant was awarded under the NIH K08 program, which was established to help promising young physician-scientists develop into independent investigators and to aid in filling the academic faculty gap in certain fields. The program builds on the NIH’s KL2 Mentored Career Development Award, which UB received in 2015 along with the prestigious Clinical and Translational Science Award.

Umesh C. Sharma, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, a physician with UBMD Internal Medicine, and a Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Scholar in the Mentored Career Development Program, was granted the award to study a protein called galectin-3.

His hypothesis is that an excess of this protein during a heart attack promotes myocardial inflammation and fibrosis, the formation of fibrous tissue in the heart. His research is focused on finding a way to block the protein so as to inhibit inflammation, reduce fibrosis and preserve cardiac function.

The basic studies Sharma will pursue complement clinical research he has performed as a CTSI Scholar, which has focused on evaluating circulating galectin-3 levels as a biomarker for the risk of sudden cardiac arrest. His initial training was supported through the Buffalo Translational Consortium, which his mentors say underscores the bench-to-bedside nature of his translational research program. 

"Dr. Sharma has benefited from, and also contributed greatly, to the physician-scientists faculty mentored career development program established under the umbrella of the Clinical and Translational Science Award and our Community of Scholars,” says Margarita L. Dubocovich, SUNY Distinguished Professor, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, principal investigator and lead of the KL2 Mentored Career Development Award, and director of the CTSI’s Workforce Development core.

“We are delighted that he is receiving the prestigious K08 career mentored development award, which will catalyze his path to research independence,” she says.

Sharma is pursuing the research with his mentor John Canty Jr., SUNY Distinguished Professor of Medicine, chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and deputy director of the CTSI.

“Developing the next generation of physician-scientists has been a key goal for the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine,” Canty says. “Dr. Sharma’s project will focus on preclinical studies to understand the role of galectin-3 in modulating post-myocardial infarction remodeling. The approach he and his colleagues have developed to modulate fibrosis using a novel peptide could ultimately be translated to patient care to prevent the progression of heart failure.” 

The mission of the UB CTSI is to improve health and reduce health disparities in Western New York through the development, testing and sharing of novel approaches to health care. The program is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers UL1TR001412 and and KL2TR001413 to UB.