University of Iowa nets $10M NIH heart research grant

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The University of Iowa Cardiovascular Research Center in Iowa City will continue studying how signals from the brain and hormones affect how often the body's veins and arteries constrict and open, after receiving a $10.4 million federal grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The five-year grant represents the eighth time it has been renewed for the center. The program has received about $80 million since its founding in 1971, supporting 30 to 50 employees each year.

Francois Abboud, the center's founder and director, said researchers have been studying molecules that help regulate vital functions, such as blood pressure, through the use of animal models. The research has included determining which chemicals can be used to treat the conditions, he said.

"We've created some animal models that have deleted that function," Abboud said. "With that model, we can tell which molecule is essential."

Other studies using the grant have explored links of the nerves on controlling appetite and how it contributes to obesity as well as sleep apathy, in which high nerve activity can elevate blood pressure.