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Grant bolsters rheumatoid arthritis research

Feb. 25, 2016, 9:13 AM

C. Michael Stein, MBChB, and his colleagues at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have received a five-year, $1.35 million award from the Arthritis Foundation to develop new biomarkers for rheumatoid arthritis that also may revolutionize treatment.

C. Michael Stein, MBChB

Last week the foundation announced that Stein was one of 11 scientists nationwide who received 2015 “Delivering on Discovery” awards to pursue “bold, new ideas that will potentially speed up the discovery of a cure.”

Stein, the Dan May Professor of Medicine and professor of Pharmacology, said his group studies microRNAs, small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression through post-transcriptional mechanisms. MicroRNAs “have great potential as biomarkers for disease diagnosis and monitoring, and for predicting response to therapy,” he said.

His colleagues include Michelle Ormseth, M.D., who generated most of the preliminary data, and Kasey Vickers, Ph.D., a national leader in the extracellular RNA field. Both are assistant professors of Medicine.

Others include Yan Guo, Ph.D., assistant professor of Cancer Biology, Guanhu Shen, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Cancer Biology, and Joseph Solus, Ph.D.

“I am lucky to be able to work with this team of investigators,” Stein said. “We appreciate the Arthritis Foundation supporting high-risk, high-reward research such as this, and we look forward to improving the care of patients with arthritis.”

Stein earned his medical degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1993. His research has helped reveal why patients with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are at increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

He is a member of the Association of American Physicians, and former editor of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the journal of the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

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