Dao-Fu Dai, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Pathology and Radiation Oncology, received a three-year, $231,000 Career Development Award from the American Heart Association. Dai will investigate how cystic fibrosis (CF) affects heart rhythm disorder. Although his primary appointment is in a different department, Dai will work under the mentorship of E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD; Barry London, MD, PhD; and David Stoltz, MD, PhD.
CF develops from mutations in cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), and the most common mutation is F508d, which accounts for about 66% of cases worldwide.
“Although CFTR is present in the heart, its function is incompletely understood,” Dai said. “Heart diseases in CF are thought to be secondary to severe lung disease. However, recent studies showed that CF may cause heart problems even when lung function is preserved.”
Recent research shows that the F508d carriers have higher risks of developing diseases, which suggests CFTR plays a critical role in multiple organs. Dai’s data suggests CF increased the risk of cardiac rhythm disorder, and with this new funding, Dai plans to expand his findings.
“This award will allow us to generate more preliminary data for future application,” Dai said. He says he plans to submit a grant proposal to the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that builds on the results from this project.