De Windt laboratory awarded Fondation Leducq Transatlantic Network of Excellence Grant

PARIS, FRANCE (18-06-2008) - An international research network, which include the participation of UMC Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute, have been awarded a grant of six million dollars over a period of five years to perform molecular and genetic research into heart failure. Five scientists, including Dr. Leon de Windt from Utrecht (the youngest awardee in Dutch history), aim to increase our understanding of the mechanism that causes heart failure in order to develop a targeted treatment therapy.
Fondation Leducq Transatlantic Networks of Excellence are the largest international funds that are available to scientists in the cardiovascular field. The Fondation Leducq was created with the idea that the battle against cardiovascular and neurovascular disease should be waged at the international level.
The sequencing of the human genome has yielded many surprising findings.  It is increasingly clear that the complexity of the human organism as compared with other animals derives not merely from protein encoding genes, but from an elaborate regulatory mechanism, which controls the expression of protein encoding genes.  Researchers are beginning to focus on this regulatory apparatus to understand disease, and to search for novel therapeutics. 
Eric Olson (University of Texas Southwestern) and Stefan Engelhardt (University of Wuerzburg) have assembled a Leducq network to investigate the role of microRNAs in heart failure.  They and other members of this network, from France, Italy,  the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States, are leading experts in the relatively new field exploring how microRNAs, small pieces of RNA, participate in the overall regulation of gene expression.  The specific aim of this Leducq network is to reveal how microRNAs are implicated in heart failure, one of the primary causes of death and disability in the world.  It is hoped that the results of this study will lead to new opportunities to develop treatments for this condition that has proved so difficult to treat.  In addition, the understanding of microRNA in heart failure should open the way to parallel investigations in other diseases.
read more about this network at:
read the original press release from the University Utrecht here.