Helena Kenny, PhD, a postdoctoral research scholar in Dr. Dale Abel’s lab and in the Division of Endocrinology, received a one-year, $250,000 grant from MyoKardia as a part of their MyoSeeds Research Grants Program. The grant will support Kenny’s investigation of how altered mitochondrial dynamics contribute to the development of cardiac dysfunction.
“OPA1 is an inner mitochondria fusion protein and is known to be down-regulated in human and animal models of heart failure,” Kenny said. “Using a cardiac-specific inducible OPA1 knockout model, we observe mitochondrial dysfunction, ER stress, and cardiac dysfunction.”
While OPA1 mutations are known to cause several conditions such as optic atrophy and Behr syndrome, Kenny’s proposed research is currently an area of study with limited knowledge.
“Mitochondria are now recognized as important signaling hubs within the cell that communicate closely with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). With this project, we plan to gain a deeper understanding of the role of ER stress in the setting of altered mitochondrial dynamics,” Kenny explained.
Earlier this year, she also received an AHA Postdoctoral fellowship, which will fund more research into the role of mitochondrial dynamics in the development of heart failure.
“As a post-doc in the Abel Lab, I’m extremely fortunate to be surrounded by very talented colleagues and collaborators,” Kenny said. “Receiving both the AHA award and this grant is a great honor. I believe the research topic is an important one and warrants the funding.”
According to MyoKardia, the MyoSeeds Research Grants Program supports research for new cardiovascular medicine and therapies. The cardiovascular medicine company, which was launched in 2012, aims to expand their community of industrial, academic and clinical researchers.
“This project is perfectly aligned with the mission of MyoKardia, who are pioneering a precision-medicine approach to discover, develop, and commercialize targeted therapies for the treatment of serious and neglected cardiovascular diseases,” Kenny said.