June 22, 2007

Cardiology work leads to young investigator award for Major

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Amy Major, Ph.D.

Cardiology work leads to young investigator award for Major

Amy Major, Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine and Pathology, recently received the Irvine H. Page Young Investigator Research Award in recognition for her leadership in cardiology research.

Major was one of 50 applicants who submitted manuscripts.

Her work was highlighted during the 7th Annual Council on Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Conference.

“It really is an honor to be recognized as one of the future leaders in cardiovascular medicine by the leaders in my field and by my peers,” Major said.

Major's lab designed a new animal model of accelerated atherosclerosis, an accumulation of inflammatory cells and cholesterol in the arterial wall that causes a narrowing of the artery, which is the precursor event to a heart attack.

The goal was to study increased cardiovascular disease in animals with lupus. Patients with lupus have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The findings showed that animals with lupus, an autoimmune disease characterized by the overproduction of auto antibodies, have increased atherosclerosis directly related to the hyperactivation of the immune system, not cholesterol.

“Until two years ago, there has not been a good model to study this in lupus,” said Major.

“Now our goal is to determine the specific mechanisms that are driving this acceleration in atherosclerosis.

“The ultimate goal is to identify more effective therapeutics for these patients that will help lupus and cardiovascular diseases as well.”

Major joins MacRae Linton, M.D., professor of Medicine, who received the Page award in 1996.

The award is named for Irvine H. Page, who began a lifelong series of investigations on hypertension.

While at Eli Lilly as the director of clinical research, his team of investigators discovered angiotensin, a body substance whose action results in constriction of blood vessels.

He later formed a research division at the Cleveland Clinic, where he remained for 33 years.