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Preventing Heart Disease and Stroke

CSU receives new $445,500 NIH grant to improve treatment of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries due to the build-up of plaque, is a primary cause of heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately, there are currently few preventative treatments that can decrease or eliminate atherosclerosis. Through a new grant from the National Institutes of Health, Cleveland State University is investigating the effect of a key enzyme on plaque build-up, which could be central to developing effective genetic therapies for addressing the condition.

Aimin Zhou, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and a member of CSU’s Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease, has received a $445,500 Academic Research Enhancement Award from NIH to improve understanding of how the enzyme RNase L contributes to atherosclerosis in humans. The data will ultimately be used to create better genetic treatments to reduce the impact of atherosclerosis on cardiovascular health. The effort will build on previous research conducted by Zhou which indicates decreasing the level of RNase L can lead to an increase in plaque build-up.

“I’m honored to receive this grant,” Zhou says. “It is my hope this research will give us a deeper understanding of how atherosclerosis develops and how we can use genetic science to reduce its negative effects.”

For more information about Zhou’s research, visit

CSU’s Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease was launched with a grant from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission and was designated as a state Center of Excellence by the Ohio Department of Higher Education in 2010. The Center serves as the home for 15 faculty members from the Departments of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences; Chemistry; and Physics as well as over 50 graduate students within the CSU/Cleveland Clinic joint Ph.D. programs in Regulatory Biology and Clinical-Bioanalytical Chemistry.