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Crescenzi lands American Heart Association Career Development Award

May. 31, 2018, 8:33 AM

by Krystyna Barnard

Rachelle Crescenzi, PhD, research instructor in Radiology and Radiological Sciences, was recently awarded an American Heart Association Career Development Award for her project, “Visualizing Vascular Mechanisms of Salt Sensitivity.” The award begins July 1 and has been funded for $77,000 per year for three years.

Rachelle Crescenzi, PhD

The goal of the project is to provide noninvasive, functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tools to assess the biological systems involved in the pathophysiology of tissue salt storage. She will use resources in the Clinical Research Center (CRC) to assess adults for salt sensitive blood pressure (SSBP), in collaboration with Deepak Gupta, MD, assistant professor of Cardiovascular Medicine. Using MRI, they will study the lymphatic and renal vascular mechanisms of how salt is cleared in the body to develop a noninvasive radiologic signature of SSBP.

According to Crescenzi’s abstract, SSBP is a prevalent, independent risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. It affects up to 50 percent of adults with normal blood pressure, 75 percent of those with high blood pressure and 74 percent of black American adults. Current methods to test for SSBP responses cannot be feasibly applied in the clinic, creating a need for radiological biomarkers of SSBP.

“Until recently, lymphatic function has been difficult to assess in the human body,” Crescenzi said. “Funding from this award will allow us to apply noninvasive MRI methods that we have developed to image lymphatic circulation, in a clinical population at risk for cardiovascular disease. There are many unexplored questions about how lymphatic circulation works with the kidneys to handle salt and maintain blood pressure and metabolism.”

Crescenzi will be the principal investigator on the project and will collaborate with faculty in the departments of Radiology, Cardiovascular Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and in the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science. Radiology faculty on the project include John Gore, PhD, Manus Donahue, PhD, Kate Hartley, MD, and Reed Omary, MD, MS.

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