A $6 million grant is helping researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation participate in an innovative transatlantic network linking scientists who study blood-clotting disorders. OMRF is one of only three U.S. institutions selected to participate in this collaboration, which also includes three European universities.
The five-year grant is among a series of Transatlantic Networks of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research grants funded by Fondation Leducq, a French institution that supports European-American collaborations in cardiovascular research. At OMRF, Charles Esmon, Ph.D., an international expert in the field of blood-clotting disorders (known as thrombosis), leads the project.
Titled the Leducq International Network Against Thrombosis, the project’s member institutions in the U.S. are OMRF, the University of Washington, and the University of Vermont; and in Europe, the University of Leiden (The Netherlands), the University of Leuven (Belgium) and the University of Paris (France). Each institution specializes in a different, yet related, aspect of research on the role of thrombosis in vascular disease. Group members were selected for their strengths in various areas of research, including expertise in the use of experimental models, information technologies and state-of-the-art core facilities.
“When I was contacted about participating, it was clear to me that this would be a good chance to work with an international network of excellent scientists,” said Esmon, who holds the Lloyd Noble Chair in Cardiovascular Research at OMRF. “And through a personnel exchange, I had a very talented student from Amsterdam working in my lab for six months. The network has also facilitated studies on pneumonia and the hereditary causes of thrombosis that we would not have been able to accomplish locally.”
The collaboration focuses on the pathways that stimulate and control the enzymes in blood that causes it to clot. Clotting can lead to heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary emboli and other life-threatening conditions. Esmon and his colleagues study the relationships between blood clotting and inflammation and how they impact human disease.
The group’s primary goals are to enhance the exchange of knowledge and promote international scientific personnel exchange. A network training program, similar to an online graduate school, is available to help train young scientists and provide them with meaningful scientific opportunities.
Long recognized as a world leader in the study of cardiovascular disease, Esmon is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Oklahoma’s only Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Research in his laboratory led to the development of two FDA-approved drugs: Xigris, a treatment for the deadly blood poisoning known as severe sepsis, as well as Ceprotin, which is used to treat a rare genetic defect that can cause a potentially life-threatening clotting disorder. He joined OMRF’s scientific staff in 1982.
OMRF (omrf.org) is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease.