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Tianji Chen, Ph.D.

Research Awards Nationwide Recipient (2016-2017)

University of Illinois at Chicago
Discovering Protein's Role in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
Biomedical Research Grant
Funded by the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a serious disease characterized by elevated pressure in the lung circulation causing right heart failure, resulting in impaired quality of life and eventually death. We have identified a protein called PDLIM5 as a driver in the development of PAH. However, the exact mechanisms by which PDLIM5 itself is regulated and how it plays a role in the development of PAH are unknown. We will investigate the role of PDLIM5 and how it is regulated in PAH. The findings will provide novel insights into PAH, which may result in the design of novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of the disease.

Update: This year we made progress in understanding the exact mechanisms by which PDLIM5 is regulated and how it plays a role in the development of PAH. We looked at PDLIM5 production in lung cells called pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells. We studied the role hypoxia (low oxygen) plays in the expression of PDLIM5, and confirmed how it functions by suppressing activation of proteins called SMAD2/3. In the coming year we will continue to investigate the molecular mechanism of PDLIM5.

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