Division of Cardiology

Dr. Evripidis Gavathiotis and Dr. Richard Kitsis Receive AHA Collaborative Sciences Award

Dr. Richard Kitsis cardiology albert einstein college of medicine montefiore medical center bronx ny
Richard N. Kitsis, MD

May 31, 2015 - BRONX, NY - Drs. Evripidis Gavathiotis and Richard Kitsis have received the NCRP Winter 2015 Collaborative Sciences Award, a three-year award supporting their study entitled "BAX as a small molecule therapeutic target for myocardial infarction".

Drs. Kitsis and Gavathiotis are developing a novel drug to limit heart damage during myocardial infarction (heart attack). The rationale is that the tissue injury sustained by the heart in the first 24 hours of infarction is the major determinant of subsequent heart failure and premature death. The target of the new drug is the pro-cell-death protein BAX. During a heart attack, cells succumb by two forms of cell death: necrosis and apoptosis. BAX has long been known to be an essential mediator of apoptosis. 

Recent work from Dr. Kitsis’ lab has shown that BAX unexpectedly also promotes necrosis. This suggests that BAX may provide a particularly good target for drugs aimed at limiting both forms of cell death during myocardial infarction. 

Research from Dr. Gavathiotis’ lab has provided insights into how the structure of the BAX protein regulates its pro-death activity, allowing the discovery of drug prototypes that might put the brakes on this lethal protein. 

Working together, the two scientists have demonstrated that one family of drugs potently blocks the deaths of heart muscle cells. This American Heart Association Collaborative Sciences Award will provide $750,000 over the next 3 years to bring together the expertise of the two labs to further the development of a drug to reduce acute cardiac damage during myocardial infarction and its lethal consequences. 

Dr. Evripidis Gavathiotis cardiology albert einstein college of medicine montefiore medical center bronx ny
Evripidis Gavathiotis, PhD

Sponsored by the American Heart Association, Collaborative Science Awards foster innovative, new collaborative approaches to research projects that pair investigators from at least two broad disciplines essential to achieving the studies' scientific objectives.

Dr. Kitsis's laboratory studies fundamental mechanisms of cell death and the roles of cell death in human disease. Presently, his work is focused on understanding mechanistic connections that link cell death programs, particularly apoptosis and necrosis, as well as molecular connections between cell death and other mitochondrial processes. Dr. Kitsis is Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Cell Biology, Dr. Gerald and Myra Dorros Chair in Cardiovascular Disease, and Director of the Wilf Family Cardiovascular Research Institute.

Dr. Gavathiotis's laboratory examines molecular signaling mechanisms of cell death and cell survival that are deregulated in cancer and other diseases, with the goal of developing the basis for novel drug therapies. Dr. Gavathiotis is Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Medicine (Cardiology). Earlier this month he was awarded the Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research for a related study entitled "Expanding A Pharmacological Approach To Selective Apoptosis Induction For Cancer Therapy". 

The award will support Drs. Gavathiotis and Dr. Kitsis in their work through June 2018.

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