NIH Honors Emory Researcher With Merit Award For Work On Renin-Angiotensin System

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has granted Kenneth Bernstein, MD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, a MERIT award in recognition of his "consistent and excellent contributions to scientific knowledge." MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) awards extend the normal time period for a research grant, providing a few outstanding investigators with the opportunity for long-term stable support that will enhance their continued scientific creativity and lessen the administrative burdens of preparing and submitting grant applications.

The $2-million MERIT award is an eight-year grant extending Dr. Bernstein?s original NIH grant awarded in 1988 when he first joined the Emory faculty. He also is an investigator under Emory's O'Brien Kidney Center NIH grant and principal investigator for three other NIH R01 grants.

During the past 10 years Bernstein and his colleagues have been responsible for a number of key scientific discoveries that have transformed the way in which scientists view the renin-angiotensin system and its effects on cardiovascular function. In 1989 they became one of the first laboratories in the world to isolate and clone the gene for the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), which controls the production of angiotensin II-the link between the kidneys and blood pressure control (Journal of Biological Chemistry, 1989).

When blood pressure drops, the kidney attempts to counterbalance the drop by releasing the enzyme, renin. Renin in turn catalyzes the production of angiotensin, a hormone circulating in the blood. The ACE enzyme converts the inactive form of angiotensin-'antiotensin I' to angiotensin II, which is a powerful vasopressor (constricter of blood vessels).

Through its vasopressor action, angiotensin II raises blood pressure and, through a variety of physiologic effects, de

Contact: Sarah Goodwin
Emory University Health Sciences Center

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