Hernando Gomez, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Critical Care Medicine, recently received a K08 research grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for a project investigating the mechanisms by which sepsis causes multiple organ dysfunction.
This research builds off of Gomez’s previous K12 Career Award, which “allowed us to obtain important preliminary data showing essentially that manipulating the regulators of cellular metabolism can protect organs from inflammatory injury during sepsis,” he explained. “The K08 then is built on the basis of these findings with the aim of investigating the specific signaling pathways and the resulting metabolic re-programming that may lead to tissue and organ protection.”
The project, entitled, “The role of energy regulation in the epithelial cell response to sepsis and the origin of multiple organ dysfunction,” will focus on two primary pathways that are critical for metabolic re-programming in the early stages of the cellular metabolic response to acute inflammatory injury. Having a better understanding of this response, and the subsequent impact on organ function and tissue repair, will help to lay a foundation for the development of more targeted diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
This K08 is somewhat related to another project that Gomez is leading: his recent grant from the Vascular Medicine Institute (VMI), which is approaching sepsis-associated organ dysfunction from a different pathophysiologic standpoint. The mechanisms being explored in the VMI grant, in particular the role of microvascular dysfunction in causing alterations in organ perfusion, will complement those investigated in the K08, particularly because disagreement exists over whether regional alterations in microvascular flow can indeed reproduce the injury patterns observed in sepsis.
A K08, formally known as a Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award, is designed to prepare a clinically-trained researcher for a career as an independent investigator. Gomez’s project will run from 2016 to 2019.