LSU Health Shreveport faculty awarded prestigious grants 

More than $5 million in highly competitive grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was recently awarded to two researchers at LSU Health Shreveport studying infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases.

Ana-Maria Dragoi, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular & Cellular Physiology, was awarded an R01 grant totaling $1,788,500 over five years from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for her project “Mechanism of macrophages colonization in gonorrhea.” This is a notable achievement in Dr. Dragoi’s career as it is her first R01 grant. Funding from the NIH will allow Dr. Dragoi to study how Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea, interacts with the immune system and avoids natural immune responses. Macrophages are white blood cells that play an important role in our immune system to detect and fight off disease. Understanding the relationship between the gonorrhea bacteria and the macrophages of the immune system is important to identify new ways to combat and treat gonorrhea, which is an urgent public health concern due to rising antibiotic resistance.

Md. Shenuarin Bhuiyan, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology & Translational Pathobiology, was awarded an R01 grant totaling $3,301,740 over five years from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Dr. Bhuiyan’s research focuses on defining new physiological functions of the Sigma-1 receptor (Sigmar1) – a widely expressed protein in the heart – and discovering its protective functions during adverse changes to the heart and heart failure. This latest grant will fund his research project “Novel mitophagy regulatory mechanism in heart failure,” investigating the beneficial role and mechanisms of Sigmar1-mediated activation of essential cellular processes macro-autophagy and mitophagy in protecting against heart failure. The central hypothesis of this proposal is that Sigmar1 is cardioprotective and can prevent heart failure from developing by activating macro-autophagy and mitophagy. These studies will uncover new perspectives on how to approach heart failure treatments and provide candidates who could be treated for the disease with medications and genetic targeting.

The R01 grant is the NIH’s oldest and most esteemed grant mechanism, designed to support health-related research and development. These grants provide financial support to projects demonstrating exceptional scientific merit and potential to advance their respective fields. An R01 grant allows researchers to pursue innovative and impactful studies related to their research focus and area of expertise.

Dr. Dragoi’s and Dr. Bhuiyan’s grants are two of 31 active R01 grants awarded to researchers at LSU Health Shreveport.

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Paul Savage, Jr.

Paul Savage, Jr. is a graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana and is the owner, founder, & designer of Savage Creative Solutions. Savage Creative Solutions is a full-service, integrated marketing agency headquartered in Shreveport, LA with a growing national footprint across multiple industries. Savage is a local marketing and communication professional, entrepreneur, and accomplished author. His debut memoir, "Diary of A Testicular Cancer Survivor," has been featured on Amazon's best-seller list.

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