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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 Connecticut Department of Public Health

January 6, 2012                                                             Contact: William Gerrish

                                                                                      (860) 509-7270

 

 

 

Hartford —Senator Joseph Crisco (D-Woodbridge) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the recipients of state funding for biomedical research into diseases associated with tobacco use and other chronic illnesses.

 

A total of $943,004 was awarded this year by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) from the state’s Biomedical Research Trust Fund. These funds will support three research projects conducted by researchers from the University of Connecticut, UCONN Health Center, and Yale University (see last page for summary of award recipients).

 

Governor Dannel P. Malloy spearheaded initiatives designed to spur the state’s biomedical research with his Bioscience Connecticut proposal last session. Yesterday, the Governor signed an agreement with Jackson Laboratory to bring a $1.2 billion dollar personalized medicine project to Connecticut. A PriceWaterhouseCoopers study estimates that the personalized medicine industry is worth $284 billion in U.S. sales annually. The institutions receiving the DPH awards are part of Connecticut’s new research triangle.

 

“These grants awarded today – part of an annual program to help underwrite cutting edge, health-related research – are consistent with what seems to be a growing and accelerating emphasis on comparable projects in Connecticut,” Senator Crisco said. “We have recently agreed to invest in an overhaul of the UConn Health Center and provide economic development funding for Jackson Labs – it’s gratifying to know Connecticut plans to continue setting the pace in health-related research throughout the foreseeable future.”

 

“These projects were selected from a field of highly competitive applications received in response to a Request for Proposals issued by the department last Spring,” stated DPH Deputy Commissioner Lisa Davis. “The funds made available through the Biomedical Research Trust Fund represent an investment in Connecticut-based research that is providing new insight into how to treat and prevent leading causes of death and disability.”

 

With this seventh round of proposals funded by DPH, over eleven million dollars have been awarded to Connecticut research institutions for the purpose of funding biomedical research into tobacco-related diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

 

In 2000, the Biomedical Research Trust Fund was established by the Connecticut General Assembly to fund biomedical research into tobacco-related illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. The trust fund may accept transfers from the Tobacco Settlement Fund. Non-profit, tax-exempt academic institutions of higher education or hospitals that conduct biomedical research are eligible to apply for these funds. In 2010, P.A. 10-136 expanded the scope of research funded by the trust fund to include Alzheimer's disease and diabetes research.

 

According to state health officials, tobacco is the single most preventable cause of mortality and morbidity in our society. In Connecticut, tobacco use is associated with over 5,000 deaths per year. These deaths are primarily caused by cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

 

An estimated 6.9% of the Connecticut adult population or approximately 186,000 adults age 18 years and older have been diagnosed with diabetes. An additional 93,000 Connecticut adults are estimated to have undiagnosed diabetes.

 

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States. It is the 6th leading cause of death among American adults, and the 5th leading cause of death for adults aged 65 years and older.

 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state.  To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.

 

 

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Connecticut Department of Public Health

Biomedical Trust Fund Awards

2011

 

UConn Health Center, Daniel Rosenberg, PhD      $356,250

 

We predict that we will be able to detect specific smoking-induced changes in the colon that will enable us to identify patients at increased risk of developing colorectal cancers. The early detection of smoking-induced aberrations will enable patients to be treated efficiently through lesion excision, chemoprevention and/or behavioral modification. For example, the identification of BRAF-positive ACF in a smoker may suggest an increased risk for subsequent disease. The patient may then be persuaded to begin a smoking cessation and screening program to determine whether colon lesions have disappeared. Instead of waiting a decade or longer to see whether a cancer develops, the use of early, smoking-associated biomarkers would provide immediate feedback and serve as a reinforcement of modified behavior.

 

University of Connecticut, Bradley Bolling, PhD      $417,076

 

Goal of this project is to evaluate whether chokeberry extract containing antioxidant polyphenols will have cardio-protective effects in former smokers who are susceptible to atherosclerosis development due to previous exposure of smoking-induced oxidative stress. Completion of this work will significantly advance understanding of the mechanisms by which dietary polyphenols and their metabolites reduce biomarkers of cardiovascular disease. This knowledge is critical to develop evidence-based nutrition recommendations for health and nutrition professionals.

 

Yale University, Kevan Herold, MD      $169,678

 

This proposal involves the development and testing of a novel approach to measure beta cell death in vivo, which is not now possible but would have important implications for treatment of diabetes. The assay will have immediate application for patients with and at risk for T1D but may also have value for treatment of islet and pancreatic graft rejection and management of Type 2 diabetes.