FSU researcher's award will fund study into cardiovascular grafts

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Florida State University researcher who is developing methods for regenerating blood vessels damaged by secondhand tobacco smoke has received a fellowship award that could provide as much as $450,000 over five years for her to pursue new scientific approaches.

Feng Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher in the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering, was selected by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) to receive a 2006-2007 FAMRI Young Clinical Scientist Award. The award, which is designed to support young scientists as they transition into independent research careers, will provide Zhao with two years of fellowship support at the rate of $75,000 per year. If she obtains a university faculty appointment during that time, she will be eligible to receive up to three years of additional funding at $100,000 per year.

A postdoctoral researcher at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering since 2003, Zhaos main area of research is tissue engineering the creation of synthetic or natural materials that can be used to replace part of a living system or to function alongside living tissue within the human body. For the project that is being funded by FAMRI, she is focused on addressing cardiovascular diseases caused by secondhand smoke.

"Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide and the cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke are nearly as large as those of smoking," Zhao said. "Secondhand smoke increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 30 percent and causes an estimated 35,000 deaths each year in the United States."

For the FAMRI study, Zhao seeks to construct small-diameter blood vessels in a laboratory setting that will mimic the elasticity and other biological characteristics of living blood vessels but that wont be rejected by the body after being implanted. The blood vessels themselves will be constructed from chitosan, a naturally occu

Contact: Teng Ma
Florida State University

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