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Ruthann Nichols

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Primary Appointment: Biological Chemistry Dept
PubMed Name: R Nichols; Ruthann Nichols
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  Heart failure is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality; yet, the mechanisms responsible for this devastating disease remain unresolved. The Nichols lab discovered a novel peptide that slows cardiac relaxation. This is an exciting finding; it identifies an endogenous signaling molecule that may contribute to diastolic dysfunction. Our research uses an interdisciplinary approach including biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, cell biology, and genetics to elucidate the physiological role of the novel peptide and the mechanisms by which it acts. Our hypothesis is the peptide acts through a putative GPCR; we identified a candidate protein receptor. Rotation projects available Winter, Spring, and Summer 2009 include, but are not limited to, 1) delineate peptide structure-activity relationship, 2) design agonists and antagonists, 3) investigate peptide or receptor expression, and 4) identify interacting molecules. Longer term questions address the peptide in cardiac performance during aging in physiological and pathophysiological conditions. This research is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.