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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

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$1.8 million NIH grant funds artery research

A team of engineers from UTSA and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio received a five-year, $1.8 million RO1 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the causes of arterial tortuosity, also known as artery twisting or curling.

Hai-Chao Han and Yusheng Feng, associate professors of mechanical engineering, along with Merry Lindsey, associate professor at the Health Science Center, say the research will lead to treatments for varicose veins and twisted arteries.

Varicose veins affect millions of Americans and nearly half of all women, according to the National Institutes of Health. Twisted arteries are associated with atherosclerosis, which occurs when fatty tissue deposits cause hardened arteries and leads to coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.

In collaboration with researchers at Georgia Tech, Han's team will research how blood flow and pressure changes in the body contribute to arterial curling. They will also observe, measure and model how an artery’s cells and wall adapt to its new buckled state. Han said he is grateful for the help from his colleagues and staff, and is particularly proud of his student researchers who contributed to the baseline research reported in the proposal.

"I have been very fortunate to have a good group of students in my laboratory from year to year,” said Han. “Both my undergraduates and my graduate students have made significant contributions to our laboratory’s overall understanding of artery tortuosity. They are to be commended for their work and should be very proud our laboratory has received this funding."

—Christi Fish

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