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Hector-Greene receives FAER Mentored Research Training Grant

Melissa Hector-Greene, MD, PhD, was recently awarded a Mentored Research Training Grant from the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) for her project titled, “Pathogenic Mechanisms of R190W Mutation in LMNA-Associated Cardiomyopathy.” This prestigious grant provides $250,000 in funding over two years to support the development of essential skills, the generation of preliminary data, and the publication of research findings.

As a cardiac anesthesiologist, Hector-Greene frequently takes care of patients living with heart failure, a condition in which the heart muscle cannot adequately meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen. While genetic causes of heart failure are relatively rare, studying them offers insight into the fundamental processes that govern normal and pathologic cardiac function. The R190W mutation in the nuclear protein Lamin A (LMNA) has been linked to sudden death, severe heart rhythm disorders, and significant heart failure in affected families, often leading to repeated heart transplants. However, it is not yet understood how this mutation causes these severe issues. Hector-Greene’s study aims to uncover this by using advanced techniques to create new heart cells carrying the LMNA R190W mutation and investigate how the mutation leads to heart failure. The study will also identify cellular pathways that could be targeted for future treatments or prevention.

“With the support of the FAER Mentored Research Training Grant, we will explore how the LMNA R190W mutation affects heart muscle function, nuclear stability, and gene activity through a series of tests, advanced imaging techniques, and genetic analyses,” said Hector-Greene. “In the second phase of the study, we will examine how the R190W mutation alters the chemical and physical properties of Lamin A. This research could provide new insights into the role of proteins that help maintain cell structure, like LMNA.”

Hector-Greene will lead this research alongside co-mentors from WashU Medicine: Professor of Medicine for Developmental Biology, Pathology and Immunology, and Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Research, Kory Lavine, MD, PhD, and Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Michael Greenberg, PhD.

Hector-Greene completed her residency in anesthesiology at WashU, followed by a fellowship in Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, also at WashU. She officially joined the Department of Anesthesiology in July 2023 as a faculty member, with joint appointments in the Division of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology and the Division of Basic Research. Her long-term career goal as a physician-scientist is to establish a cross-disciplinary research program that uses innovative techniques to understand and answer fundamental questions about heart disease.

The FAER Mentored Research Training Grant is highly competitive and is awarded to exceptional faculty members who have completed their core anesthesiology residency training within the past 10 years. This grant provides essential financial support and recognizes the potential of physician-investigators to make significant contributions to their respective fields.

An organization of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), FAER is dedicated to developing the next generation of physician-scientists in anesthesiology and fueling anesthesiology’s future through scientific discovery. More information about FAER and the spring 2024 grant recipients is available on the ASA website.