MU CVM Professor Receives NIH Grant to Study Obesity-related Cardiovascular Disease

Shawn Bender, PhD, an assistant professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Biomedical Sciences, was recently awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 research award to continue his laboratory’s work to further understanding of the cardiovascular consequences of obesity.

Shawn Bender

Shawn Bender

Bender received the five-year $2.8 million grant entitled “Mineralocorticoid receptor-dependent coronary vascular dysfunction in obesity” from the NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The study will explore the possible role of smooth muscle mineralocorticoid receptors as central contributors to obesity associated coronary microvascular dysfunction.

“This grant provides the resources to continue unique, proven collaborations and to further advance our understanding of the cardiovascular consequences of obesity using an exciting combination of experimental models, techniques and approaches,” Bender says.

“The central premise of the work in my lab is that coronary microvascular dysfunction and the resultant impairment of coronary blood flow control is an independent predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in obese, diabetic patients,” Bender says.

Bender is the principal investigator in the study, but is quick to acknowledge his co-investigators.

“It’s a joy to work with such wonderful colleagues on this project,” Bender says. “Professor Doug Bowles, the chair of the CVM’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, is an expert on vascular ion channels. Johnathan Tune, PhD, is a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, who is an expert on coronary blood flow control. Iris Jaffe, professor and executive director of the Molecular Cardiology Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center, who is an expert on vascular mineralocorticoid receptors. I am thrilled not only by the support of the NIH but also with the team we have assembled to explore these important questions addressing a critical unmet medical need in terms of better understanding and possibly treating coronary dysfunction in obesity.”

The Research Project Grant, or R01, is the original and historically oldest grant mechanism used by the NIH. The R01 provides support for health-related research and development based on the stated program interests of one or more of the NIH Institutes and Centers.