Newswise — Stephen O’Rourke, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at North Dakota State University, Fargo, has received a $435,000 grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to conduct cardiovascular research.
O'Rourke will investigate a naturally occurring biological molecule known as a peptide. He'll specifically study a peptide called apelin that is produced by adipose tissue and has been linked to obesity and, research suggests there might be a link to stroke.
O'Rourke is working to understand how the peptide regulates cerebral artery vasomotor tone, or how it alters the blood vessel's diameter. While some studies indicate that apelin may have beneficial effects on parts of the cardiovascular system, O'Rourke's previous work showed it can inhibit certain vasodilator responses in cerebral arteries, which could increase the risk of cerebral vascular dysfunction.
"Our objective is two-fold," O'Rourke explained. "We want to try to determine why and how apelin constricts cerebral arteries and compare that with some of what have been commonly been regarded as its beneficial effects in coronary arteries. We are looking forward to trying to decipher some of these mechanisms."
The new research study is O'Rourke's sixth project that the National Institutes of Health has funded since he's been at NDSU.
"It's certainly rewarding," he said of receiving the grant. "One of our primary responsibilities at NDSU is to discover new knowledge and find new ways of thinking and doing things."
O'Rourke is a fellow of the American Heart Association's Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences. In addition, he is a member of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the American Physiological Society.
O'Rourke earned his bachelor's degree in pharmacy, and his master's and doctoral degrees in pharmacology, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also was a postdoctoral fellow at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
The research is supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R15HL124338. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.