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UTHSC Researcher’s Discovery Lays Groundwork
for Future Asthma Therapies
Memphis, Tenn. (July 10, 2006)—The discovery of a unique intracellular organization of proteins in smooth muscle cells could have a significant impact on the treatment of asthma. Rennolds S. Ostrom, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Medicine and the Vascular Biology Center of Excellence, received a five-year $1.4 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to pursue basic research on the organization of pathways inside smooth muscle cells that control muscle contraction.
“When a patient suffers an asthmatic attack, or spasm, the primary treatment currently is to use an inhaler, which causes the muscles lining the airway to relax and relieve the spasm. We have developed new insight, at the subcellular level, into a mechanism that relaxes smooth muscle cells. Our research mission now is to understand how this mechanism might be altered in an asthmatic patient,” explained Dr. Ostrom.
“Dr. Ostrom’s discovery and research are potentially laying the groundwork for entirely new therapeutic approaches to treating asthma. Without the understanding gained from basic scientific exploration, such as this work done at the cellular level, major medical advances would occur in far fewer numbers,” noted Burt M. Sharp, MD, the Harriet S. Van Vleet Chair of Excellence in Pharmacology and chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at UTHSC.
Dr. Ostrom completed a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of California, Irvine, and a postdoctoral fellowship in pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego. Highly recognized throughout his career, Dr. Ostrom holds several awards including, the International Symposium on Vascular Neuroeffector Mechanisms Young Scientist Travel Award and the International Society of Hypertension Young Investigator Travel Award. He was a 2001 finalist for the American Heart Association Louis and Arnold Katz Basic Science Research Prize, which is presented annually to the most promising young investigator worldwide.
As the flagship statewide academic health system, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is focused on a four-tier mission of education, research, patient care and community service, all in support of a single goal: to improve the health of Tennesseans. Offering a broad range of post-graduate training opportunities, the main campus, which includes six colleges, is located in Memphis. UTHSC has additional College of Medicine campus locations in Knoxville and Chattanooga. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.
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