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A $14.3 million award from the WoodNext Foundation will expand research at the University of Pittsburgh to identify causes of inflammation that lead to heart disease and dementia, two of the most costly, deadly and pervasive health problems in the United States.

“This gift will bring together three world-class research teams, disrupting the traditional path of single disease research,” said Anantha Shekhar, the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine and senior vice chancellor for the health sciences at Pitt. “The transformational contribution from the WoodNext Foundation will advance biomedical, cardiovascular and neuroscience research through collaboration and innovation.”

“This funding provides a unique opportunity to learn how inflammation connects the cardiovascular and neurological systems,” said Dr. Stephen Chan, who will serve as principal investigator of the interdisciplinary team. “We will leverage our discoveries to identify molecules in the body that could be targeted by drugs and develop a novel generation of medicines that prevent, treat or even reverse these disease processes and improve the lives of patients worldwide.”

— PittWire story by Mark Nootbaar, photography by Tom Altany and Aimee Obidzinski