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Two Beats from the Top

Pharmacology Ph.D. Candidate Secures Third-Place Finish for Best Presentation in Cardiovascular Pharmacology at ASPET Meeting April 2-6

Pharmacology doctoral candidate Santosh Suryavanshi secured a third-place finish in the Graduate Student Best Presentation competition of the Cardiovascular Pharmacology Division at the American Society of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) 2016 Annual Meeting April 2-6 in San Diego, Calif.

photo of Suryavanshi in lab
A presentation by Santosh Suryavanshi, UHCOP Pharmacology doctoral candidate, took third place in the Graduate Student competition of the Cardiovascular Pharmacology Division at the ASPET 2016 Annual Meeting April 2-6 in San Diego, Calif.

The project examined how the absence of a specific protein called Gravin affects regulation on beta-adrenergic signaling, which is one of the biochemical processes essential for cardiac contractility and overall normal heart function. Known as an A-kinase anchoring protein (AKAP), gravin scaffolds essential cardiac proteins in the heart and regulates complex intracellular signaling pathways.

"With the help of latest technology in the lab, we measured intracellular calcium changes and cardiac cell contractility from heart cells and muscles isolated from wild-type and gravin knock-out mice," Suryavanshi said. "To mimic heart failure in humans, we induced heart failure in these mice by chronic isoproterenol (a beta adrenergic agonist) administration. Interestingly, we found that the gravin knock-out mice had significantly lower intracellular calcium transients, but higher corresponding contractility as compared to the wild-type mice. This is an indication of higher cardiac sensitivity to calcium.

"We know that calcium sensitivity is significantly depressed in heart failure patients. Hence, improvements in calcium cycling or sensitivity may prove useful targets for the treatment of heart failure and disruption of gravin may be exploited further as a potential target to increase cardiac sensitivity to calcium."

Fewer than a dozen graduate students were invited to participate in the ASPET's Cardiovascular Pharmacology competition, which involved making an oral presentation of the poster in under five minutes and answering questions posed by a group of eight judges. Suryavanshi also received an ASPET Travel Award to present his poster in the general poster session of the meeting, which was part of the 2016 Experimental Biology conference.

Coauthors of the project were UHCOP alumna Sonal Singh, Ph.D. ('15), postdoctoral fellow at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy; Wei Dong Gao, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and Bradley K. McConnell, Ph.D., FAPS, FAHA, UHCOP associate professor whose National Institutes of Health grant supported the project.

One of the largest gatherings of its kind, Experimental Biology is an annual meeting comprising more than 14,000 scientists, undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and exhibitors representing six sponsoring societies – including ASPET – and multiple guest societies.

-- by Chip Lambert