Can liver disease be linked to heart failure? VCU study highlights liver-heart interaction

By Anne Dreyfuss
VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have collaborated on a clinical trial that identifies indicators for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease — a typically asymptomatic disease caused by fat buildup in the liver and the leading cause of liver disease in the United States.

Mohammad Siddiqui, M.D., an associate professor in the VCU School of Medicine, and researchers with expertise in cardiology, hepatology, and exercise physiology have been conducting research with a focus on the link between heart and liver damage. Their efforts have resulted in a study in which they draw a connection between patients with aggressive types of fatty liver disease and limitations in exercise capacity.

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Passion pays off: Sanyal to receive premier award in field of liver disease

By Polly Roberts
VCU School of Medicine

Headshot of Dr. Sanyal

In November 2018, Arun Sanyal, M.D., will accept the 2018 Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. The award signifies 30 years of research including 17 continuous years of National Institutes of Health funding, the development of therapeutics reducing liver disease across the globe, and countless international leadership roles and awards.

“This is the premier award in the field of liver disease and Dr. Sanyal is most deserving,” says Dean of Medicine Peter F. Buckley, M.D. “His work is the definition of translational medicine. Through his extraordinary commitment to research, teaching and patient care, and to always finding a better way, he has improved the standard of care for liver disease around the world.” Read More

Wright Center translational science classes inspire VCU cancer researcher

Headshot of Dr. Lathika Mohanraj
Lathika Mohanraj, Ph.D.

By Blake Belden
VCU Massey Cancer Center

Lathika Mohanraj, Ph.D., identifies genetic biomarkers that could aid in the early detection of patients at risk for complications from bone marrow transplantation, hematologic cancers and other malignancies.

Her mother, a breast cancer survivor, was diagnosed with the disease while Mohanraj was an undergrad student in India. Living through that experience solidified her passion to pursue a career in cancer research and treatment.

“Watching my mom go through it and going to the hospital and seeing the other cancer patients there — it was a lot for me to experience at an impressionable age,” Mohanraj said. “That triggered my interest, and from then on I knew that’s what I was going to do.” Read More

Interdisciplinary VCU research team provides clinical and diagnostic guidance for broken-heart syndrome

By Anne Dreyfuss
VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research


Infographic describing broken heart syndrome
Broken heart syndrome usually results from severe emotional or physical stress such as the death of a loved one. (Image courtesy of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology)

A team of cardiology and psychiatry specialists from Virginia Commonwealth University has authored a new comprehensive clinical review article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that summarizes the latest evidence-based diagnostic criteria and treatment strategies for Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as broken-heart syndrome.

“Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a recently recognized condition that is difficult to diagnose and treat,” said corresponding author Antonio Abbate, M.D., Ph.D. Abbate is a cardiology professor at VCU School of Medicine. He serves as associate director of the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research and as medical director of the Clinical Research Services unit. Read More

Prolonged sitting is awful for your health. These tips can help.

By Brian McNeill
VCU University Public Affairs

Garten, who has conducted research on the topic, offered a few practical tips to counteract the impact of prolonged sitting and other sedentary behavior.

What exactly are the health impacts of sitting at a desk all day? 

Overall, sitting causes or is associated with many negative health outcomes (i.e. obesity, diabetes). My research has observed that sitting for long periods can harm the function of the blood vessels in the legs. This dysfunction can lead to stiffer, less-responsive blood vessels that, over time, can put a large amount of strain on the heart, increasing an individual’s risk for heart disease. This heart disease risk is further increased when coupled with weight gain associated with excessive sitting. There is currently speculation that sedentary behavior, to which sitting is the most common type, may be as bad for you as smoking! Thus, the importance of understanding the impact of sitting and how to counteract this effect has never been higher.

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Short Distances to Large Gaps in Health

By Sarah Blackburn
VCU Center on Society and Health

Recent research from the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health found that life expectancy across the metropolitan Washington region varies by as much as 27 years and health can differ drastically within a single county, from neighborhood to neighborhood. The report – Uneven Opportunities: How Conditions for Wellness Vary Across the Metropolitan Washington Region – was commissioned by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments in order to better understand health status and health disparities across the region. The study examines the health of the community, focusing on life expectancy and the factors that shape health. Wright Center Co-Director of Community Engaged Research Steven Woolf, M.D., was the lead author of the study. He presented the research at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Region Forward Coalition meeting on Oct. 26.

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Graduate student, who researches cancer biology, competes on ‘Jeopardy!’

By Anne Dreyfuss
VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research

While watching “Jeopardy!” in December 2016, Virginia Commonwealth University M.D.-Ph.D. student Dhruv Srinivasachar was inspired by a contestant named Cindy Stowell, who was battling stage 4 colon cancer when she completed a six-game winning streak. Stowell never got to see the episodes, which were taped in August and September. She died just a week before they aired.

“My research is in cancer biology — specifically focused on finding new drugs for cancer,” Srinivasachar said. “I would like to make strides in developing more effective treatments, and possibly even cures, for cancers that we have not had much success in treating.”

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Interdisciplinary VCU research team overcomes obstacles to improve health for people with diabetes

By Anne Dreyfuss
VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research

At first, it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. An interdisciplinary research team of Virginia Commonwealth University faculty members and students had applied for federal funding to create a virtual diabetes education program that would empower people living with diabetes to manage their disease, but their grant application was denied.

“We thought we were going to receive funding,” said Alex Krist, M.D., a family medicine professor at VCU School of Medicine. “At the last minute we didn’t, but Privia Medical Group offered to help us as part of their clinical mission.”

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