Ryan Boudreau, PhD; Anil Chauhan, MTech, PhD; and Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD, have claimed half of the slots in this year’s class of the University of Iowa Health Care Distinguished Scholars Program (DSP). Each will receive a three-year, $600,000 grant sponsored by the institution to support the expansion of their research program. The DSP aims to support internationally recognized scientists who are leaders in their fields of research. The first class was named in 2020, and those researchers will have the option of applying for renewal, beginning next year.
Ryan Boudreau, PhD, associate professor in Cardiovascular Medicine, has established his research across multiple disciplines, from neuroscience to metabolism to cardiovascular biology. His innovative approaches have led to a breadth of ground-breaking insights including the discovery of microproteins encoded by long non-coding RNAs and the generation of the only existing empirically defined maps of microRNA gene regulatory networks in human tissues (including heart and brain). He has been extremely productive in publishing and obtaining internal and extramural funding, the latter of which includes three active independent NIH R01s, as well as grants from the American Heart Association (AHA), the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease, and the Alzheimer’s Association. Within our institution, his collaborative network is broad and his efforts have catalyzed not only his own career, but that of many trainees and colleagues here at the University of Iowa.
His current work aims to 1) identify and characterize novel microproteins encoded by our genome and understand their relevance to human disease, primarily cardiac and neurologic conditions; and 2) more precisely define microRNA-target mRNA interactomes in human tissues to better assess their interface with genetic variations and disease, as well as their potential as therapeutic targets.
Anil Chauhan, M. Tech, Ph.D., professor in the Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Blood & Marrow Transplantation, focuses on the interface between thrombosis and inflammation. Pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) is a metabolic enzyme that catalyzes the final step of glycolysis. The goals of the current ongoing research program in the Chauhan Lab are to understand how PKM2 regulates platelet and leukocyte function and to determine if targeting dimeric PKM2 will inhibit thrombosis and inflammation and, thereby, could be developed as a therapeutic strategy toward better management of patients at high risk for stroke. Chauhan and his team recently demonstrated that targeting dimeric PKM2 in platelets or neutrophils inhibits platelet function (in humans and in mice) and arterial thrombosis and improves stroke outcome in experimental models. To further explore the metabolic changes that could provide information about underlying mechanisms, the Chauhan Lab seeks to perform metabolomics and proteomic analysis on platelets isolated from obese patients.The question they are investigating is whether targeting dimeric PKM2 will inhibit platelet function and arterial thrombosis in the setting of obesity.
Chauhan currently serves as PI on four different research projects and mentors several postdoctoral scholars and junior faculties within the department. Chauhan was perhaps the first at the University of Iowa to receive the R35 Established Investigator Award (EIA) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). According to the NHLBI, the R35 EIA promotes “scientific productivity and innovation by providing long-term support and increased flexibility” to an investigator with demonstrated and outstanding contributions to the field. Currently, Chauhan’s lab is funded from multiple federal and non-federal sources: NIH/NHLBI, R35 Investigator Award; NIH/NINDS, R01; NIH/NINDS, U01; and an AHA EIA. Chauhan and Enrique Leira, MD, MS, Department of Neurology, co-lead the U01, establishing the University of Iowa as one of six member institutions in the Stroke Preclinical Assessment Network (SPAN), which supports multiple translational studies. The main objective of the SPAN is to prioritize the testing of different neuroprotective agents in humans based on their measured comparative efficacy in experimental stroke models.
With four active grants and several leadership roles, Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD, Interim Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and professor in Cardiovascular Medicine, is a leader in research, crossing multidisciplinary lines beyond cardiovascular medicine. Grumbach’s current research program focuses on how mitochondrial (dys)function impacts on atherosclerosis and vascular disease in diabetes. Her work investigates the effect of radiation on microvessels in cancer survivors, the latter of which has led to her founding a growing cardio-oncology program at Iowa. To fund her research, Grumbach has received multiple large NIH grants, a VA Merit Grant, multiple pilot grants from Iowa’s Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, and AHA awards, including an Innovative Project Award grant.
In addition to serving as the Interim Chair of the department, Grumbach is also the department’s Vice Chair of Research. She has mentored dozens of UI students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty members during her time in the department. She was recently named the Kate Daum Professor, a title that recognizes groundbreaking women scientists at the University of Iowa. Previously, Grumbach served as the Associate Director of the Cardiovascular Fellowship Program and the Chief of Cardiology at the Iowa City VA Medical Center. Nationally, Grumbach is the past chair of the AHA’s Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology Women’s Leadership Committee. She was also recently elected to the Association of University Cardiologists, an organization made up the country’s leaders in academic cardiology.