UTA professor investigating the role of T cells in cardiovascular disease

Friday, Jul 26, 2019 UT Arlington Media Relations

A researcher at The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation will use a $634,000 National Institutes of Health grant to study the role of T cells in cardiovascular disease among older people.

The five-year NIH grant awarded to Daniel Wayne Trott, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, is a career development award. Known as a K01 grant, it is designed to provide enhanced mentoring for promising junior faculty to learn techniques that will increase their research profiles.

Trott, who joined the faculty early in 2018, will work with three mentors on this study:  Paul Fadel, a UTA professor of kinesiology and the college’s associate dean for research; Tony Donato, an associate professor at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine; and Jorg Goronzy, a professor of medicine at Stanford. All three are nationally renowned scholars of cardiovascular research.

Trott noted that age is the most predictive factor of cardiovascular disease. His preliminary research shows that T cells infiltrate arteries in pre-clinical models.

“These studies are designed to give us an answer as to whether this occurs in older adults,” he said. “We know there is an increased risk for cardiovascular disease with aging. We think that aging T cells may be involved in this increased risk.”

The studies build on Trott’s work as principal investigator of the college’s Integrative Immunology Laboratory, which focuses on determining how the immune system and arteries interact in older people.

Part of this grant will help train him in learning to perform clinical human research. Next year, he and his team will begin recruiting 54 human subjects for the study who fall into three age categories: 18-30, 35-50 and 55-75.

“We’re looking for generally healthy adults,” he said. “We want to examine the effects of aging independent of the many age-related diseases. We want to find out how the aging immune system interacts with arteries.”

Elizabeth Merwin, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, called the award a boon for the college.

“This is a win for us on so many levels,” she said. “This award supports career-enhancing research training and provides support for a study that has the potential to inform how we approach the treatment of heart disease in our aging population.”

--Olalekan Oguntoyinbo