September 16, 2020 by
Timothy Plante ’06 M.D.’10, M.H.S., UVM Assistant Professor of Medicine
Timothy Plante ’06 M.D.’10, M.H.S., assistant professor of medicine, has been appointed the Martin E. Bloomfield ’56 M.D.’60 and Judith S. Bloomfield ’59 Early Career Professor in Cardiovascular Research at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine.
The professorship was established in 2017 by Martin and Judith Bloomfield, whose goal was to help young investigators combine practice and research by providing more assistance, reducing teaching loads, and offering salary support early in their careers at the Cardiovascular Research Institute of Vermont (CVRI). Martin Bloomfield, who is celebrating his 60th medical reunion in 2020, still recalls the difficulty in finding the time and resources necessary to conduct the research that interested him as a young cardiologist.
“During fellowship I was interested in myocardial hypertrophy and the role of hormones, but having little space and time prevented me from achieving any results,” said Bloomfield. “And the difficulty in obtaining grant money as a young investigator has always been a problem.”
The Bloomfields are longtime supporters of the Larner College of Medicine. Martin is a dual-degree UVM undergraduate and medical alum, and his wife and fellow UVM undergraduate alum Judith is a retired psychologist. In 2017, they created a separate endowment to support visiting professorships for the CVRI, and Martin also serves as a member of the UVM Foundation Leadership Council. In establishing the Bloomfield Professorship—the first of its kind at UVM—they hoped their philanthropy could change the course of careers in a way they had witnessed first-hand in their own family. Their son Dan, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a research cardiologist, also struggled early in his career to find windows of opportunity for his research. After earning an endowed assistant professorship, which relieved him of many of his teaching responsibilities, his projects flourished. He became a Doris Duke Fellow, and grant money followed. Today, the Bloomfield Professorship, inspired by their son’s experience, is helping to grow the reputation of the CVRI and paving the way for groundbreaking research by a new generation of investigators.
Benedek Erdos, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology, was invested as the inaugural Bloomfield Early Career Professor in Cardiovascular Research in 2017. The endowment supported his research on “Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, a Novel Hypothalamic Mediator in Hypertension,” an investigation of how the brain controls cardiovascular responses during stress.
“I am truly grateful for Dr. Bloomfield’s support, which gave us the opportunity to explore exciting new avenues in our research and promoted my scientific career in this critical phase of establishing an independent program,” said Erdos. “We were able to establish a novel animal model that allows us to study the activity of certain neurons that drive blood pressure higher during stress. This new model will help us unravel further details of the role this signaling mechanism plays in cardiovascular stress responses and in promoting augmented blood pressure responses to stress when multiple cardiovascular risk factors, such as high calorie or high salt diets, are combined. Our ultimate goal is to find novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of hypertension.”
Dr. Plante, a native Vermonter who incidentally earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from UVM exactly 50 years after Dr. Bloomfield, is a general internist practicing inpatient hospitalist medicine and outpatient thrombosis medicine at the UVM Medical Center. He conducts epidemiology research in the Laboratory for Clinical Biochemistry Research and is a member of the CVRI Early Career Advisory Committee. He completed an internal medicine residency at Georgetown University Hospital and a T32-sponsored fellowship in general internal medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he also earned a Master of Health Science degree in clinical epidemiology from the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Plante’s project, titled “The Inflammatory Basis of Hypertension,” aims to identify phenotype patterns of inflammation using modern biostatistical techniques and assess their association with hypertension in the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) cohort study. In his proposal, Plante said that “This is an innovative, critical step required before assessing targeted inflammation lowering for primary prevention of inflammation-based hypertension.” The REGARDS study has accumulated 3,343 incident hypertension cases among 30,239 black and white adults across the U.S.
“Dr. Plante’s research, at the intersection of cardiovascular epidemiology and mobile health, is both novel and important,” said Larner College of Medicine Dean Richard L. Page, M.D. "We are grateful for the Bloomfield’s generosity in endowing this Early Career Professorship and for the support it will provide for Dr. Plante’s investigation.”
"This professorship is very unique and provides critical funding for those of us trying to gain independence," said Plante. "I am humbled and honored to have been selected for the Bloomfield Early Career Professorship and feel so fortunate to have this support.”
Fundraising for the Larner College of Medicine is a major focus for the University of Vermont Foundation, a nonprofit corporation established to secure and manage private support for the benefit of the University of Vermont. During the University’s eight-year Move Mountains comprehensive fundraising campaign, which concluded last summer, donors like the Bloomfields helped raise more than $290 million to support the Academic Health Sciences (the Larner College of Medicine, the College of Nursing & Health Sciences, and the UVM Medical Center). Today, the University boasts 124 endowed chairs and professorships—64 of those are associated with the Larner College of Medicine. More information about the impact of donors and the work of the UVM Foundation can be found at www.uvmfoundation.org