Michael Samardzija, left, vice president of Research Affairs, along with several researchers involved in recent grant awards.

Loma Linda University’s office of Research Affairs and School of Medicine recently announced that five pairs of research teams received internally funded grants for research designed to receive larger externally funded grants.

The awards are for Grants for Research and School Partnerships (GRASP) Awards and Grants to Promote Collaborative and Translational Research (GCAT) Awards.

Loma Linda University Health has experienced a surge in external funding over the past few years, according to Michael Samardzija, PhD, vice president of Research Affairs.

“We’re continuing to invest in what we view are the most promising projects to generate data for future externally funded grants, which will help Loma Linda University Health create solutions for medical needs that are currently unmet,” Samardzija said.

The following teams received the $75,000, 24-month awards:

GRASP awarded to Yan Chen Wongworawat, MD, PhD, and Minh Phuong Dong, MD, PhD, for their study “Noninvasive Prognostic Biomarker for Oral Cancer using RNA Sequencing.” The project is a collaboration of the School of Medicine Department of Pathology and the School of Dentistry Center for Dental Research. The study will aim to establish an RNA sequencing of oral brush swab specimens as a highly accurate and viable alternative to tissue-based RNA analysis.

GRASP awarded to Ahmed Khocht, DDS, MSD, and Ester Wu, MD, for their study “The impact of bariatric surgery on periodontal health.” The project aims to identify the impact of bariatric surgery on the restoration of inflammatory homeostasis in periodontal tissues. The project is a collaboration of the School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery and the School of Dentistry Department of Periodontics.

GCAT 2.0 awarded to Julia Unternaehrer-Hamm, PhD, and Yevgeniya Ioffe, MD for their project “Reversing Chemoresistance in Organoid and Patient-Derived Xenograft Models of Ovarian Cancer.” Their objective is to determine the intersection of chemoresistance with stemness and EMT, and the therapeutic effectiveness of targeting key chemoresistance factors in preclinical models of recurrent ovarian cancer. Their long-term goal is to accelerate the development of novel treatments for EOC that target CSC to sensitize chemoresistant tumors. The project is a collaboration of the School of Medicine’s Department of Basic Sciences and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

GCAT awarded to Mary Kearns-Jonker, PhD, and David Rabkin, MD, for their project “Tissue Engineering for Cardiovascular Repair.” They will explore the possibility of accelerating the recovery of the infarcted heart by developing a novel approach for creating a cardiovascular-tissue derived stem cell seeded patch for placement over the site of infarction. The project is a collaboration of the School of Medicine’s Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery and the Department of Pathology and Human Anatomy.

GCAT awarded to Ciprian Gheorghe, MD, PhD, and David A. Hessinger, PhD, for their project “The BK channel as a potential therapeutic target to ameliorate effects of intrauterine hypoxia.” Their study aims to identify potential therapeutic targets of intrauterine hypoxia (IUH), which is a leading cause of fetal death and neonatal morbidity. The project is a collaboration of the School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Department of Basic Sciences.

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