Bolli, U of L, score again
NIH renews adult stem cell grant for $12.8 million.
U of L's Dr. Roberto Bolli (at podium) is joined by fellow investigators (l-r) Drs. Gregg Rokosh, Yiru Guo, Aruni Bhatnagar, Tariq Hamid, Steve Jones and Qianhong Li as he announces the $12.8 million renewal of "Protection of Ischemic Myocardium."
Some doctors consider a nearly $13 million research grant the high point of their career. For University of Louisville Dr. Roberto Bolli, it's just another Friday.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health has renewed Dr. Bolli's Project Program Grant, "Protection of Ischemic Myocardium," for another five years, with funding totaling approximately $12.8 million.
The initial $11.7 million grant was awarded to Dr. Bolli and his team in 2006 for adult stem cell research into how introducing genes into stem cells might improve stem cell therapies, how diabetes affects stem cells, how a class of proteins – cytokines – affect stem cells during heart failure, and the signaling pathways of stem cells in the body.
Made up of four component Projects and Cores, the Projects investigations are led by Bolli and U of L Drs. Aruni Bhatnagar, Tariq Hamid, Sumanth Prabhu and Steve Jones, while the Cores groups consists of Bolli and Drs. Qianhong Li, Yiru Guo and Gregg Rokosh.
As director of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology and Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Medicine at U of L, Bolli has made it his mission to make adult stem cell treatment an option for all who must cope with the limitations of a failing heart.
"It is entirely unacceptable that heart failure affects roughly six million Americans, yet treatment consists of either a heart transplant or the insertion of mechanical devices that assist the heart," Bolli said. "All of these other treatments currently available – transplants, assist devices, drugs – may prolong life but do not address the root cause of failing heart muscle. By regenerating new heart muscle, cardiac stem cells could actually solve the problem."
This grant application was the No. 1 application nationwide in scoring by the NHLBI, going up against top universities in the country including Ivy League institutions. The overall score of the U of L application was the highest possible – a "10" – and each of the four component projects earned individual scores of "10."
An overall score of 10 is extraordinarily rare and NIH staff report to Bolli that they do not know of any other grant receiving scores of 10 for each project within a grant.
"Big science, science that truly changes lives, requires great vision and commitment," Dr. Jesse Roman, Chairman of the University of Louisville Department of Medicine said. "Big science also requires the efforts and devotion of a group of investigators, staff and trainees to help carry out the vision.
"Finally, big science in medicine requires the engagement of patients and their communities to partner with research teams to see new therapies become a reality. Dr. Bolli's Program Project joins a visionary leader, a world-class team, and a community with the purpose of improving the lives of patients with cardiac disease. That's what this department is about. That is the U of L way."
The grant renewal is the second major grant reeled in by Bolli and his investigators in 2011, the first being the $9.56 million, five-year CAESAR grant to study cardioprotective therapies at a preclinical level. Overall, Bolli and his teams have brought to U of L more than $100 million in NIH grants since his arrival in Louisville in 1994.
“The University of Louisville has a mandate to become a nationally recognized metropolitan research university," U of L President Dr. James R. Ramsey said. "One gauge is our faculty's ability to attract competitive grant funding from the NIH.
"The fact that our program has been renewed during these very competitive times demonstrates yet again the high quality talent we have at U of L. Even more importantly, our faculty are turning research discoveries into medical treatments that enhance the lives of their patients."
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Bolli, U of L to lead multi-center cardioprotective study (Feb. 4, 2011)
Cardiac stem cells safe, effective in heart failure treatment (Nov. 15, 2010)