Career Development Award for Paula da Costa Martins

PARIS, FRANCE (01-01-2011) - Dr. da Costa Martins is a junior group leader at the Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht, where her work is embedded in the research group of Dr. Leon de Windt, member of the MicroRNAs as therapeutic targets in heart failure network.
Dr. da Costa Martins currently focuses on microRNA biology and recently was the lead author of a publication in Nature Cell Biology about microRNA-199b in heart failure. MicroRNA 216a (miR-216a) also appears to be important in this condition. MiR-216a is thought to act upon genes involved in autophagy, a tightly controlled process by which a cell's components are degraded and recycled. It is likely that when blood supply is restricted, either insufficient or excessive autophagy leads to cell death and subsequent heart failure.
With her award, Dr. da Costa Martins will split her time between Maastricht and Dallas, where she will work with Dr. Eric Olson, the North American coordinator of the network, at the University of Texas, Southwestern. Her key objectives are to identify the genes regulated by miR-216a, to determine whether miR-216a is necessary for cell death, and to establish whether silencing miR-216a has therapeutic benefit.