NEW ORLEANS — The National Institutes of Health is giving Tulane University $11.4 over the next five years to get more scientists studying ways to help patients with high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and related conditions.
Epidemiology professor Jiang He is using the grant to start an institute aimed at taking lab research into those chronic diseases and moving the findings into clinical studies and then into general use.
That’s called “translational research,” and the new institute is called the Tulane University Translational Sciences Institute.
“Translational research means you’re working with people,” said co-director Dr. Lee Hamm, senior vice president and dean of Tulane University School of Medicine. “Translational research aims to transform bench science discoveries into clinical research to develop new methods for diagnosing, treating and preventing diseases and to implement new knowledge into everyday clinical and public health practice to improve the health of populations.”
The grant under NIH’s Center of Biomedical Research Excellence program to provide junior faculty with research money, career development opportunities and strong mentoring from senior investigators.
The goal is to get them to the point where they can get their own NIH grants, become independent investigators and graduate from the program so younger scientists can enter it.
“We aim to establish an internationally recognized research program in the prevention and treatment of cardiometabolic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and other chronic diseases,” He said in a news release.
The institute will bring in three scientists.
Dr. Shengxu Li, an assistant professor of epidemiology, will study how obesity during childhood predicts risks for diabetes.
Katherine Mills, an assistant professor of epidemiology, will investigate how dietary salt consumption affects a key marker of kidney damage in patients with chronic kidney disease.
Hui Shen, an assistant professor of biostatistics, will study how gut bacteria affects risks for osteoporosis.