My research interests are to understand the molecular mechanisms of aortic vascular disease and obesity. The primary focus of my research is to identify the functional role of calpain, a cysteine protease in the vascular diseases mainly, atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysms. To delineate the functional contribution of calpain in vascular pathologies, we used an animal model of Angiotensin II (AngII) -induced aortic aneurysms and atherosclerosis developed by Dr. Daugherty and Dr. Cassis, at University of Kentucky. Using this animal model, recently, we have demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of calpains completely attenuate the development of AngII-induced aortic aneurysm in mice. To further explore the molecular mechanisms by which calpain activation contributes to these vascular diseases, recently we have developed unique reagents including whole body or conditional cell-specific calpain deficient mice. Using these novel reagents, in the coming years, we hope to identify the cell type and isoform specific, mechanistic role of calpains in these vascular diseases.
01/2014 – 12/2017
American Heart Association
“Role of macrophage-specific calpain-2 in hypercholesterolemia-induced atherosclerosis”
The focus of this project is to determine that calpain deficiency in macrophages will attenuate hypercholesterolemia-induced atherosclerosis by promoting macrophage RCT and suppressing NF-kB mediated inflammation.
5P20GM103527 08/2015 – 07/2017 National Institute of Health Center of Research in Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease. This is a center grant to create a research focus in the area of obesity and cardiovascular disease. The goal of this study is to determine the role of obesity in aortic aneurysm development.
Cassis (PI) Role: Junior Investigator