Mark Nelson, Ph.D., UVM Professor and Chair of Pharmacology (Photo: UVM Medical Communications)
University of Vermont (UVM) Distinguished Professor and Chair of Pharmacology Mark Nelson, Ph.D., has been awarded a prestigious $6.45 million dollar Outstanding Investigator Award (OIA) from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health.
The award will provide support for Nelson’s research program, titled “Capillaries as a Sensory Web that Controls Cerebral Blood Flow in Health and Disease,” for seven years.
Local blood flow is critical to supply neurons in the brain with a continuous supply of nutrients, but despite extensive study, the mechanisms underlying the functional linkage between the energy needs of the brain’s neurons and blood flow in the brain remain poorly understood. Nelson and his colleagues have made great strides in uncovering critical information about this process, including the discovery that capillaries actively control blood flow by acting like a series of wires, transmitting electrical signals to direct blood to the areas that need it most. With this funding, Nelson and his colleagues will advance this work, and determine new insights into small vessel disease of the brain – a leading cause of cognitive decline and functional loss in elderly patients.
A member of the UVM faculty since 1986, Nelson is internationally recognized for his vascular research. An NIH MERIT award recipient, he is a Fellow of both the American Heart Association and the Biophysical Society and was a regular member of the National Institutes of Health’s Pharmacology Study Section. His extensive research contributions have been recognized with more than 360 invited lectureships since 2000, including the Paul M. Vanhoutte Lectureship in Vascular Pharmacology by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. In addition, he is the recipient of the Annual Reviews Award for Scientific Reviewing from the American Physiological Society, and University Scholar and University Distinguished Professor honors from UVM.
Designed to promote scientific productivity and innovation, the NHLBI OIA allows program directors/principal investigators to take greater risks and greater flexibility and freedom to conduct research that breaks new ground or extends previous discoveries in new directions. Eligible candidates must be experienced investigators currently leading at least two NHLBI R01-equivalent awards whose outstanding record of research demonstrates their ability to make major contributions to heart, lung, blood and sleep research.