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Charting A Course for the Future
CHORI Doctoral Student Presents Research at 2009 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions Congress

While CHORI is a stand-alone research institute unaffiliated with any university, educating the next generation of scientists is an essential aspect of CHORI. The institute strives to provide educational research opportunities for all types of students, including doctoral students conducting research as part of their PhD program. One such student who has been working under the mentorship of CHORI scientists Robert Ryan, PhD and Trudy Forte, PhD, is well on his way toward becoming one of the standout scientists of the next generation.



Xiao Shu, a University of California, Berkeley graduate student in the Molecular and Biochemical Nutrition program, has been conducting research at CHORI for the past 5 years. Recently Xiao competed for a highly coveted oral presentation of his research at the annual American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions held in Orlando, Florida this November.

"Xiao is a dynamic and very bright scientist, with a great deal of talent," says Dr. Ryan. "His achievements are highly meritorious, and include a variety of AHA awards and scholarships in addition to being selected to present at the Conference."

While only one third of all abstracts submitted to the AHA are accepted for a poster presentation, it is even more competitive to be selected for an oral presentation. His success highlights the caliber of Xiao's research, which focuses on the impact of apolipoprotein (apo) A-V on plasma triglyceride (TG) levels, which, when elevated, represent a significant and independent risk for heart disease.
"Apo A-V is a recently identified member of the apoliprotein family, a series of proteins found on the surface of circulating lipoproteins," says Mr. Shu. "It was discovered in 2001 and has been shown to be a very potent regulator of TGs."
While Mr. Shu's research has focused on the mechanism whereby apoA-V regulates plasma TG levels, his latest study, highlighted at the AHA conference, investigated the therapeutic affect on TGs of injecting apoA-V.

"What we were able to show was that providing apoA-V to a mouse model high in TGs due to lack of apo A-V actually lowered TG levels," explains Mr. Shu. "Administering apo A-V resulted in enhanced mobilization and uptake of TGs, thereby completely changing the TG profile from at risk to normal."

Although the research is still in its infancy, the AHA response to the study is an indication of its great potential for clinical application, as well as to the promise of Mr. Shu's scientific career.
While Mr. Shu is still deciding what his next steps will be, his experience at CHORI has had a fundamental impact on his perspective on research.

"I really wanted to do some research that would have a clinical impact, so CHORI was a great opportunity for me," says Mr. Shu. "UC Berkeley primarily has basic research opportunities, but because CHORI is affiliated with the hospital, it means that I had more of a chance to explore research that is translational in nature."

Mr. Shu certainly achieved his aims, as the latest study recognized by the AHA indicates that apoA-V could be a potential drug target for lowering TGs and significantly reducing heart disease risk.

In the mean time, Mr. Shu is keeping his eyes on completing the requirements for the PhD and determining his next course of action. If Mr. Shu's experience at CHORI is any indication, however, he no doubt has great success written in his future, regardless of where applies himself next, and CHORI is immensely pleased to have participated in helping chart his course.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM

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