BU professor receives NIH grant to study impact of PFAS toxicants on the vascular system

Noyan Gokce, MD, professor of medicine at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, has been awarded a $453,750 National Institutes of Health (NIH) R-21 grant for his research study "Impact of Per/Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) pollutants on vascular disease mechanisms." This work will be performed in collaboration with co-investigator Jennifer Schlezinger, PhD from the Boston University School of Public Health.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are manmade chemicals that are extensively used in industrial and consumer products such as stain- and water-repellent fabrics, food contact materials, polishes, waxes, paints and foams. PFAS are omnipresent in the environment including our food and drinking supplies and can be absorbed by humans.

Gokce's research project will focus on the growing evidence that PFAS exposures are associated with negative health outcomes and may play a role in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. "Our preliminary data shows that PFAS disrupt key physiological functions of human blood vessels by impairing arteriolar vasomotor function and angiogenesis," says Gokce, who also is Director of Echocardiography at Boston Medical Center (BMC).

He will seek for the first time to characterize the causal pathophysiological actions of diverse classes of PFAS toxicants upon the human vascular system. "The overall project tackles an unmet clinical need for innovative research as outlined by the recently established PFAS Commitments to Action Strategic Roadmap (2021-2024) by the EPA, for understanding how PFAS pollutants can play causal roles in mediating human disease," he explains.

Gokce is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology (FACC), American Society of Echocardiography (FASE) and a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI). He is board certified in cardiovascular diseases and adult echocardiography. He is recipient of the Excellence in Clinical Teaching award in 2006, 2011, 2017 and 2019 in the cardiovascular division. He is the recipient of the Collaborator of the Year award in clinical/translational sciences at BMC, as well as the Department of Medicine's first prize in clinical research.

His laboratory has been NIH funded for 20 consecutive years and he is currently the principal investigator on several NIH R01 grants that study the relationships between dysfunctional adipose tissue in human fat stores and cardiometabolic dysfunction.

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