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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              Connecticut Department of Public Health

March 28, 2013                                                          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 $3,010,611 was awarded this year by DPH from the state’s Biomedical Research Trust Fund. These funds will support nine research projects conducted by researchers from the UCONN Health Center and Yale University (see attached for summary of award recipients).


The Biomedical Research Trust Fund awards are just one example of Connecticut’s ongoing investment in the growing field of bioscience. Earlier this year, Governor Dannel P. Malloy proposed the Bioscience Innovation Act which, over ten years, will establish a $200 million fund to strengthen investment in Connecticut’s bioscience sector.


“The research grants we've announced today – part of an annual program to help underwrite cutting edge, health-related research – are consistent with our state's growing and accelerating emphasis on comparable projects in Connecticut,” Senator Crisco said. “Last year we 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 continues setting the pace in health-related research to energize its economy for 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 summer,” 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 eighth round of proposals funded by DPH, over nearly $14.5 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 or call (860) 509-7270.







2013 BioMedical Trust Fund Awards





Yale University                                                           Lynn Regan, Ph.D.                 $284,739


This project’s purpose is to discover the underlying basis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and thereby reveal new potential therapeutic routes.


Yale University                                                           Dr. Mark J. Mamula                $216,043


The purpose of this project is to analyze the antibody profile of trastuzumab (trade name Herceptin®)-treated patients before, during, and after treatment.  This work will determine the clinical efficacy of trastuzumab treatment for breast cancer and predict potential cardiotoxicity.


University of Connecticut Health Center                   Kevin P.Claffey, Ph.D.           $341,572


This Project’s purpose is to prove that novel inhibitors the phospholipase C-beta 2 (PLC-ß2) enzyme, can significantly reduce pathological vascular permeability and thus limit cardiac muscle damage and risk of heart failure that occurs after standard of care treatment for cardiac infarction or heart attack.


Yale University                                                           Jack A. Elias, M.D.                 $355,902


This project will address the novel hypothesis that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a key role in the pathogenesis of COPD by characterizing the effects of cigarette smoke on the novel mitochondrial regulator NLRX1 and mitochondrial function and, by so doing, define a novel pathogenic pathway and validate new therapeutic targets for this disorder.


Yale University                                               Dr. Demetrios Braddock                    $300,000


The immediate goal of this project is to establish the physiologic role of NPP4 in Hemostasis and Thrombosis and use the information gained to lay the foundation for the development of novel antithrombotic agents that may one day be useful in the treatment of coronary vascular disease and stroke.







University of Connecticut Health Center                   Dr. Irina Bezsonova                $300,000


This project focuses on a potential target for anti-cancer therapies, USP7; specifically, the project seeks to uncover the molecular mechanism of this enzyme’s specificity towards its substrates, which will provide basis for development of highly specific anti-cancer drugs.


Yale University                                                           Dr. Michael H. Nathanson      $367,401


The purpose of this project is to investigate whether and how lipid accumulation alters the mechanisms of Ca2+ release in the nucleus of liver cells that lead to uncontrolled cell proliferation and liver tumor progression.           


Yale University                                                           Dr. Qin Yan                            $420,488


This project’s purpose is to dissect the roles of histone demethylase RBP2 in breast cancer metastasis.


Yale University                                                           Dr. David F. Stern                  $424,466


A tiered single agent and combinatorial two-agent screen of a curated panel of conventional and molecularly targeted anti-cancer agents will be used to identify combinations that are effective on lung cancers driven by specific gene mutations.