|Steve Lim, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the USA College of Medicine, investigates the pathological contribution of vascular smooth muscle cells in atherosclerosis.|
Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on artery walls (also known as plaque), which can restrict blood flow. The plaque can burst, triggering a blood clot. Although atherosclerosis is often considered a heart problem, it can impact arteries anywhere in the body.
Two postdoctoral fellows, James Murphy, Ph.D., and Kyuho “KJ” Jeong, Ph.D., are performing the work in Lim’s lab.
Since most previous studies have focused on the role of macrophages or endothelial cells in atherosclerosis progression, Lim said, the role of VSMCs in the disease is not well understood. Considering that a majority of cholesterol-loaded cells in atherosclerotic plaques are of VSMC origin, the study tackles reducing these phenotypically altered VSMCs.
USA College of Medicine intramural grants provide funds through an annual competition to five full-time basic science faculty members. The grant program is designed to provide the resources needed to develop new or additional preliminary data to bolster success with extramural funding.
“Often, many basic researchers have a good idea but do not have funding to begin with,” Lim said. “I believe this grant opportunity is crucial to develop initiatives of new ideas and to potentially bring extramural funding in the future.”