Yale consortium awarded $6 million to study therapies for vascular disease

An international research team spearheaded by William C. Sessa, the Alfred Gilman Professor of Pharmacology and professor of medicine (cardiology), has been awarded a $6 million Transatlantic Networks of Excellence grant from the Fondation Leducq in France.

William C. Sessa

Sessa will be the U.S. coordinator for the consortium as it explores the mechanisms of secreted microRNAs and microRNA-based therapies for vascular disease. Sessa will be joined by a European coordinator, Dr. Thomas Thum, director of the Institute for Molecular and Translational Therapeutic Strategies at Hanover Medical School in Germany, and five investigators including recent Yale recruit, Carlos Fenandez-Hernando, associate professor of comparative medicine. The grant will be distributed over five years.

Sessa is director of the vascular biology and therapeutics program and vice chairman of pharmacology at Yale School of Medicine.

Sessa has long worked at the intersection of pharmacology and cardiovascular disease. He is on the scientific advisory board of the William Harvey Research Institute and NIHR Biomedical Research Unit in London, and also served on the joint strategy committee for the Yale-UCL collaborative in cardiovascular research.

“I am grateful to Fondation Leducq for funding this new international collaboration to find new and effective ways to treat a disease that kills millions of people each year,” Sessa said. “We have assembled a fantastic team of world class scientists to tackle the basic questions of how microRNAs are packaged and transferred between cells, and their therapeutic potential in vascular diseases.”

Fondation Leducq is a French non-profit health research foundation. Its mission is to improve human health through international efforts to combat cardiovascular disease. To this end, Fondation Leducq created the Transatlantic Networks of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research Program, which is designed to promote collaborative research involving centers in North America and Europe in the areas of cardiovascular and neurovascular disease.

Yale has had two previous Leducq grants — to Dr. Richard Lifton, chair of genetics, and Dr. Michael Simons, director of the Yale Cardiovascular Research Center.

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