UC San Diego CTRI-Supported Pediatrics Researcher Imam Advances to NIH Grant

August 18, 2016

CTRI KL2 awardee Farhad Imam, MD, PhD

Farhad Imam, MD, PhD, a 2016 recipient of a UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) KL2 grant, has been awarded a prestigious K08 grant from the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Imam, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego, will receive up to five years of NIH support to continue studying “hypoxia preconditioning” and its role in preventing brain injury in infants. Hypoxia, an oxygen deficiency, can cause debilitating disease and organ injury in infants who encounter complications during childbirth, and affects over 10,000 infants in the U.S. each year.

“I’m very pleased to expand this research to better understand how the body’s natural response to hypoxia can be protective and lead to a ‘preconditioned' state where we are more resilient against severe hypoxia stress,” Imam said. “If we can understand more about how this protective phenomenon occurs naturally, we should be able to activate it therapeutically in high-risk infants and therefore minimize or even prevent brain injury.”

Using an animal model of hypoxia preconditioning, the researcher will conduct genetic and genomic investigations into the elusive mechanisms of hypoxia preconditioning. The goal is to develop novel preventive therapies. “Successful identification of a neuroprotective drug that activates the preconditioned state and protects against hypoxic injury would have a tremendous impact on the thousands of infants each year who suffer from hypoxic brain injury,” Imam said.

Joel Dimsdale, MD, director of the CTRI KL2 program, commended Imam’s project success and advancement to an NIH K08 award. “This is a remarkable achievement. We are delighted Dr. Imam has been awarded an NIH grant to build on the important pediatrics research he began with support from the CTRI KL2 program,” Dimsdale said. He noted that UC San Diego CTRI has supported research across the lifespan from pediatrics to geriatrics. “We are blessed with an outstanding faculty and delighted to give them the ‘breathing space’ to develop their research expertise even further,” he said.

Imam transitioned from the CTRI award to the NHLBI grant August 1.

Read Dr. Imam’s bio