ALBANY, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2005 ¾ Two researchers from the Albany Medical College’s Center for Cardiovascular Sciences have received grants totaling more than $2.5 million from the National Institutes of Health to conduct studies to better understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to heart, lung and vascular diseases. Harold A. Singer, Ph.D., received a grant in the amount of $1.4 million and Dale D. Tang, M.D., Ph.D., received a grant of $1.1 million. Both grants are for the study of the molecular mechanisms of smooth muscle and its role in regulating the cardiovascular and respiratory functions of the body.
Dr. Singer, professor and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Sciences at the College, is investigating the control mechanisms associated with the muscle cells in arteries and veins. “These vascular smooth muscle cells contract and relax to control blood vessel diameter, which in turn controls blood pressure and tissue distribution,” said Singer. Dr. Singer is particularly interested in how enzymes called calmodulin-dependent protein kinases are controlled by calcium and how they work to regulate vascular smooth muscle contraction.
Dale D. Tang, M.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Center for Cardiovascular Sciences. According to Tang, “Smooth muscle is one of the three types of muscle tissue in the body and plays an important role in regulating both cardiovascular and respiratory functions. Using sophisticated cellular and molecular approaches our goal is to learn how external stimulations can cause smooth muscle to contract. Obtaining this knowledge eventually may facilitate the discovery of new drugs to help treat patients with a narrowing of their arteries in organs such as the heart and lungs.”
Smooth muscle generally forms the supporting tissue of blood vessels and the walls of certain internal organs. For these vessels to function properly, they must be able to continually contract and relax. Dysfunction results in the narrowing of the vessels which can lead to angina if the heart is the organ affected and asthma if the affected organs are the lungs.
According to Dr. Singer, “We are trying to understand the fundamental cell biology and blood vessel pathophysiology that leads to cardiovascular disease. The potential payoffs for undertaking this research are truly astounding in terms of saved lives and healthier people.”
Singer joined the Albany Medical College staff in 1998 as a professor in the department of physiology and cell biology and director of the vascular biology interdisciplinary research group. In 1999 he became the director of the Center for Cardiovascular Sciences. He is also an adjunct professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. Dr. Singer received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
Tang joined the Albany Medical College faculty in December 2004. Prior to his appointment he served as a research associate and assistant professor in the department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology at the Indiana School of Medicine in Indianapolis. Dr. Tang received his medical and doctoral degrees from Tongi Medical University in Wuhan, China. He did a postdoctoral fellowship in the department of physiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a second postdoctoral fellowship in the department of biochemistry at the University of Calgary in Canada.
Employing the latest analytical, imaging and genetic tools, researchers at the Center for Cardiovascular Sciences at the Albany Medical College are seeking to better understand the intricate regulatory pathways controlling cardiovascular function, opening the doors to an array of new approaches and treatments. Additional research centers at the College include the Center for Cell Biology and Cancer Research, the Center for Immunology and Microbial Disease, and the Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience.
Albany Medical College is part of Albany Medical Center, which also includes the Albany Medical Center Hospital and the Albany Medical Center Foundation, Inc. The institution has a three-fold mission of patient care, biomedical research and medical education