Wistar Professor Awarded W.W. Smith Charitable Trust Grant for Work in Heart Research

January 22, 1999

Philadelphia -- Francesca Marassi, Ph.D., a professor at The Wistar Institute, has been awarded a three-year, $228,000 grant from The W.W. Smith Charitable Trust to support her research on "Structure Determination of Cardiac Muscle Phospholemman (PLM)." Announcement of the award was made by Louise A. Havens, Grant Administrator for The W.W. Smith Charitable Trust.

Dr. Marassi's research focuses on identifying the molecular structure of PLM, a protein that helps regulate cardiac muscle contractions. Conditions such as heart failure and arrhythmia can be caused by poor PLM function. PLM also regulates the amount of Taurine that flows in and out of heart cells. Victims of heart attacks have been found to have low levels of Taurine in their heart cells.

After the structure of PLM is defined, further research can be conducted to analyze its normal functions, how mutated amino acids affect PLM functions and what therapeutic treatments can be developed to correct PLM problems.

The W. W. Smith Charitable Trust awards about $5 million annually to support three public service program areas in the Delaware Valley region: medical research into cancer, heart disease and AIDS; college scholarships for the economically disadvantaged; and food, clothing and shelter for children and the aged.
Heather Redfern

The Wistar Institute, established in 1892, was the first independent medical research facility in the country. For more than 100 years, Wistar scientists have been making history and improving world health through their development of vaccines for diseases that include rabies, German measles, infantile gastroenteritis (rotavirus), and cytomegalovirus; discovery of molecules like interleukin-12, which are helping the immune system fight bacteria, parasites, viruses and cancer; and location of genes that contribute to the development of diseases like breast, lung and prostate cancer. Wistar is a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center.

The Wistar Institute
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