Ryan Boudreau, PhD, assistant professor in Cardiovascular Medicine, was awarded a five-year, $1.9M NIH R01. This funding will support Boudreau’s further investigation of the cardiovascular effects of a genetic variant in SCN5A, the gene that encodes the Nav1.5 sodium channel that provides the required electrical activity to initiate each heartbeat. In a former study, Boudreau’s lab, in collaboration with Dr. Barry London’s group, found that this variant is linked to decreased Nav1.5 levels in human hearts and worse heart failure outcomes.
“Although this variant is not pathogenic in healthy individuals, we made the surprising discovery that it is linked to increased non-arrhythmic death in patients with heart failure,” Boudreau said. “Given the high incidence of heart failure, this is a significant finding, considering that ten to 40 percent of the population harbors the at-risk genotype for this variant.”
Like many other new investigators, Boudreau expresses his gratitude for this significant funding and the ability to further expand his research. He hypothesizes that Nav1.5 may influence cardiac metabolism and oxidative stress, and his lab would not be able to discover the underlying mechanisms without NIH support.
“Moving forward, our goal is to further define molecular pathways that lead to Nav1.5 deficiency and to better understand how too little Nav1.5 negatively impacts cardiac function, beyond its known role in heart rhythm control,” Boudreau said.
Boudreau’s team has busy times ahead of them. Boudreau recently learned that another of his R01 grant applications received a fundable score. The NIH will likely grant this second major award to his research group this summer.
“It offers some validation of all the hard work that I have poured into the last 15 years, from my graduate and postdoctoral training to establishing my independent lab. Moreover, these awards are an important reflection of my outstanding research team; their strong work-ethic and devotion to science have made this possible,” Boudreau said.