July 28, 2000

Retreat links VU, Meharry investigators

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This year’s Christie Society Summer Scholars are (from left) Brent Frisbie, Elizabeth Atkinson, Kristin Ehst, Mona Patel, Lisa Andrews, Brenda Harris, Allan Moore and Jonathan Spanier. (photo by Mary Donaldson)

Retreat links VU, Meharry investigators

The serene countryside south of Nashville served as the backdrop for the first "Vascular Biology Training Grant Retreat," held recently to increase interactions between Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University investigators who study blood vessel biology.

"We hope that this retreat will lead to more collaborations between the various investigators," said Richard L. Hoover, Ph.D., professor of Pathology and associate professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt, and one of the retreat leaders.

The Vascular Biology Training Grant has included mentors and trainees at both Meharry and Vanderbilt since its beginning six years ago, and it is now one of the Vanderbilt-Meharry alliance initiatives. The recent retreat marked the first gathering of investigators from both institutions to learn first-hand about each others' work, Hoover said. The training grant supports research covering all aspects of vascular biology, from molecular and structural biology to clinical studies.

The retreat featured research presentations by faculty members and trainees, followed by a poster session and picnic lunch.

Ned Porter, Ph.D., Stevenson Professor of Chemistry at Vanderbilt, described studies aimed at understanding the chemical reactions that occur between oxygen, free radicals and lipids.

David M. Bader, Ph.D., Gladys Parkinson Stahlman Chair in Cardiovascular Research and professor of Medicine and Cell Biology at Vanderbilt, discussed his laboratory's discovery of a new gene product called Bves (pronounced like the cartoon character "Beavis"), short for "Blood vessel and epicardial substance." Bves is an early marker of cells that will develop into coronary arteries, Bader said.

Joel Trupin, Ph.D., professor of Microbiology at Meharry, presented findings about the cellular makeup of keloids, enlarged scars that grow beyond the bounds of the original wound. There is no effective treatment for keloids, a disease of wound healing that is very common in the black population. Trupin has studied the responses of keloid cells grown in the laboratory to common wound healing agents like hydrocortisone.

"There is a failure in keloid cells to respond to signals that normally terminate wound healing," he said.

Vascular Biology trainees who discussed their research findings included postdoctoral fellow Patricia Anderson, Ph.D., and graduate students Monica Parker and Robyn Richie-Jannetta.