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Researchers awarded surprise grants for cardiovascular and arthritis studies

Surprise gift

On Monday, researchers at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus were awarded multiple grants from the Rose Community Foundation to advance cardiology research as well as arthritis research and treatment. The one-time grantmaking is an initiative called “Heart and Soul,” awarding nearly $1.3 million to six organizations in the greater Denver area.

The grant recipients are Peter M. Buttrick, MD; Kevin Deane, MD, PhD; Judith G. Regensteiner, PhD; Jane E.B. Reusch, MD, PhD; and Josiane Broussard, PhD.

The Rose Community Foundation team members, led by president and CEO Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, surprised the researchers on campus Monday with the news.

Kevin Deane, MD, PhD, awarded a surprise grant from the Rose Community Foundation
Kevin Deane, MD, PhD, awarded a surprise grant from the Rose Community Foundation.

“We are excited to support and highlight the incredible work taking place in our own backyard around cardiovascular disease and arthritis,” said Eichenbaum Lent. “These grants span the entire age continuum – supporting work that will benefit children through older adults – while also spanning the continuum of therapeutic and clinical care to trailblazing laboratory research. Our hope is that these funds will make a significant impact in the lives of Coloradans living with cardiovascular disease or arthritis – and provide transformational support to the local doctors, scientists, researchers and institutions working to improve the health of people with these conditions.”

The awards were presented to the Center for Women’s Health Research, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Children’s Hospital Colorado:

  • The Center for Women’s Health Research was granted $300,000 to support the following: $200,000 for a study exploring the effects of insufficient sleep on cardiovascular fitness and insulin action, and an additional $100,000 to fund two seed grants for interdisciplinary research teams that allow for early-career researchers to gather the necessary preliminary data to obtain national funding and launch a large research project in the field.
  • University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus was granted $185,000 to support the following: $110,000 for a new robotic workstation that expands the capacity of the arthritis research at the facility, and $75,000 for a bioinformatic and laboratory expert to identify unique heart failure signatures on over 1,300 heart tissues so that more precise treatments can be offered to patients for better outcomes.
  • Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation received a $410,000 grant which includes the following: $360,000 to fund a two-year study to identify compounds that improve heart function in children with heart failure and test whether physical exercise improves heart function in children with heart failure, and an additional $50,000 to purchase software for an ultrasound machine that improves treatment for pediatric rheumatoid diseases by allowing for clearer imaging and more targeted joint treatment in children, and laboratory equipment to further accelerate care and research for a cure.
Peter M. Buttrick, MD, awarded a surprise grant from the Rose Community Foundation
Peter M. Buttrick, MD, awarded a surprise grant from the Rose Community Foundation.

“These philanthropic gifts from the Rose Community Foundation’s “Heart & Soul” initiative will accelerate vital work at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and we are proud to partner with such a visionary and committed leader in our community to transform health care,” said John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, CU School of Medicine dean and vice chancellor for health affairs. “This generous support will speed innovative research in cardiology and fund essential equipment for arthritis research and treatment, ultimately helping our talented physician-researchers improve care and quality of life for countless patients.”

Photos by KO, Office of Communications. 

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Lindau Nobel Laureate 2018

At the prospect of meeting her role model, Rushita Bagchi is at a loss for words. Selected through a national competition to attend the prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting this summer, Bagchi has the chance to interact with top scientists from around the world, including Elizabeth Blackburn, 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Rushita Bagchi, PhD, has been with the university since 2015.

Bagchi, who received her PhD from the University of Manitoba in cardiac pathophysiology, said she hopes she will be able to calm her excitement enough to gain insight from the renowned woman scientist. Bagchi recently spoke with CU Anschutz Today about her path to the notable meeting invitation. She has worked in Dr. Timothy McKinsey’s lab on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus as a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Cardiology since 2015.

What do you study, and what do you like most about it?

Currently, I am researching the epigenetic regulation of cardiometabolic disease, with a special focus on chromatin modifying enzymes known as histone deacetylases (HDACs). This area is fairly lesser explored than broad cardiology. Any novel findings from this area of research have the potential to pave the way for the development of new therapeutics to treat patients diagnosed with diabetes and hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular disease associated with these conditions. The translational nature of this work is very exciting and keeps me very engaged.

What is the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting?

It is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for top trainees in the world (under the age of 35) to network and learn from the experts in the field. The annual meeting is conducted in different categories, just like the Nobel Prize categories. This year’s meeting in June is in the area of Medicine and Physiology. The top 600 trainees from 84 countries have been selected to participate in this meeting and interact with over 40 Nobel laureates. This is the best platform to build networks and lay the foundation for future collaborations. Mostly importantly, I think this is the best opportunity one can have to get to know the world leaders in science better and listen and learn about their academic and personal experiences.

What is the application process like?

It starts with a nomination from a partner institution in a country, which may choose to select its nominees through competition, merit or both. The nomination letter is just one of the many components of the application process. In addition, the nominees are asked to provide detailed biodata, their significant contributions to the field of science, recognitions and awards and what motivates them to pursue scientific research. A scientific committee carefully assesses thousands of applications from nominees worldwide and selects the top 500 or so individuals to participate in the meeting.

“I think this is the best opportunity one can have to get to know the world leaders in science better and listen and learn about their academic and personal experiences.”  ̶  Rushita Bagchi, PhD

What did you think or do when you heard you were chosen? 

I received an email from the meeting organizers very early morning on Feb. 27, which is also my dad’s birthday. It took me a little while to process what had just happened. I called up my husband in Canada and my parents in India immediately to inform them about my selection. I also passed on the news to my current mentor, Dr. Timothy McKinsey, and my PhD mentor, Dr. Michael Czubryt. It was very exciting, and surreal!

What are you looking forward to the most?

I am looking forward to networking opportunities and learning from the experts. I am especially excited about being able to meet Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who received the prize for the discovery of the enzyme telomerase. I have always looked up to women scientists, and she is one of my role models.

What do you think you’ll say or ask when you meet her? 

Honestly, I don’t know how I will react when I meet her in person. I will probably be at a loss for words at the first glance, and then hopefully will be able to introduce myself and start a conversation. I will surely ask about her experience and path she took to becoming a top woman scientist and especially her advice for aspiring women scientists.



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