This proposal describes a five-year research and training program that will allow Dr. Christopher Holley to achieve independence as a cardiovascular researcher and physician-scientist. Dr. Holley has broad training in scientific research and medicine, with both MD and PhD degrees. He has completed post-graduate residency training in Internal Medicine as well as clinical fellowship training in Cardiology, witha special emphasis on the management of heart failure. The primary objective of this research proposal is to allow Dr. Holley to develop new skills for basic science research in cardiovascular disease, which will facilitate a transition to independent scientific investigations focused on heat failure. The research will take place at the Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO), in the laboratory of Dr. Jean Schaffer, MD. Washington University has a strong history of basic science research, including 17 Nobel Laureates that have been associated with the School of Medicine. Cardiovascular science is an area of particular strength at Washington University, with over 60 faculty members actively engaged in research. The mentor for this project, Dr. Schaffer, is an international leader in the area of diabetic cardiovascular complications and has a successful track record of mentoring. An expert advisory committee has also been formed to provide specialized scientific input and additional career guidance. A detailed career development plan has been proposed that includes regular participation in local seminars and national meetings, as well as a timeline for manuscripts and an eventual R01 application. The proposed research will focus on molecular and cellular aspects of heart failure and pathologic cardiac remodeling. In particular, this research seeks to better understand how reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress influence the proliferation and activation of cardiac fibroblasts, with extension to an in vivo model of heart failure and fibrosis. Work that wa recently published by the Schaffer laboratory has identified three small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) that are essential mediators of oxidative stress. Preliminary data presented in this proposal suggests that these snoRNAs influence ROS levels in the heart, and that they specifically influence cardiac fibroblast ROS levels and proliferation. The relationship between these snoRNAs, ROS, and cardiac fibroblast biology will be examined in three Aims.
Aim 1 will characterize the role of snoRNAs in the regulation of ROS during normal cardiac fibroblast proliferation.
Aim 2 will examine how the snoRNAs influence pathologic cardiac fibroblast proliferation and activation downstream of angiotensin II, which is known to involve ROS-dependent signaling.
The final Aim will assess how these snoRNAs regulate ROS and cardiac fibroblast biology in a mouse model of angiotensin II infusion that results in cardiovascular oxidative stress and fibrosis.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with heart failure affecting three million Americans and leading to 300,000 deaths each year. One important aspect of heart failure is that the heart becomes excessively stiff due to a process known as cardiac fibrosis. The research proposed here will add to our understanding of heart disease by studying how heart cells are activated to produce cardiac fibrosis.