Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 800,000 Americans will experience their first heart attack this year. The CDC estimates that, in the past year, heart disease cost the nation more than $300 billion in health care services, medications and lost productivity.
Utah State University student researcher David Ingram is working on a novel approach at the molecular level that could enable physicians to detect a person’s cardiovascular disease risk earlier in a more accurate, less invasive and less expensive manner than current technologies. With fellow Aggies, he presents his research Wednesday, Jan. 26, at the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Undergraduate Research Day on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City.
“Basically, we’re looking at a method to detect a specific risk factor in the bloodstream,” says Ingram, a biochemistry major who conducts research with faculty mentor Joan Hevel and graduate student mentor Laurel Gui.
The team is trying to determine if a ribonucleic acid aptamer, a short sequence of RNA capable of selectively binding small molecules with high specificity, could be used as a biosensor for the cardiovascular disease risk factor Asymmetic Dimethylated Arginine or ADMA. Their project is partially funded by a Herman Frasch Foundation grant.
“Currently, ADMA is difficult to detect,” says Ingram, who received a USU-funded Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) grant in fall 2010 to support his research. “If you had better tools, you might be able to detect a patient’s disease risk sooner and have a better treatment outcome.”
A Salt Lake City native, Ingram graduated from East High School in 2005 and serves as a College of Science ambassador.
“I hope to get accepted to medical school and study to become a physician,” he says.
Contact: David Ingram, email@example.com
Contact: Joan Hevel, 435-797-1622, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, email@example.com