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Research / Discovery

Researcher studies obesity, cardiovascular disease

June 6, 2014
By Jeff Dodge

Christopher Gentile wants to find out why obese people are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, and he just received one of the state's biggest biomedical research grants to do it.

Christopher GentileGentile, an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University, is one of only seven scientists in the state to receive a $225,000 grant from the Boettcher Foundation to support his research, which focuses on a part of the cell believed to cause decreased health in blood vessels.

During the three-year study, Gentile will use animal models to pinpoint the cell component believed to make vessels rigid and lose their ability to constrict and dilate in cases of obesity or diabetes. If the cellular culprit is confirmed, he and his team will apply their findings to humans by testing a blocking agent’s effectiveness in a group of obese test subjects as well as a control group.

Aiding early-career scientists

The foundation’s Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Program helps early-career investigators in biomedical sciences advance their research and invests in science that can make significant contributions to human health. The grants, announced June 3, are intended to help the scientists establish themselves and compete for major awards from federal agencies and private foundations.

“Chris has been highly successful throughout his career,” said Michael Pagliassotti, head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. “I believe Chris will develop into a leader in the broad field of cardiovascular physiology and obesity-related cardiovascular complications. He is one among a very small group of young scientists who have the potential to translate basic science into clinically relevant outcomes. This award will provide Chris with the opportunity to expand and strengthen his current research agenda and compete for large, external grants in the near future. ”

Gentile holds a B.S. from Skidmore College, an M.S. from the University of Colorado Boulder, and a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech, all in physiology.

'Finest scientific minds in the state'

“The new class of Boettcher Investigators represents some of the
finest scientific minds in the state, and we are honored to have the opportunity
to support their research, which has the potential to have significant
impacts on human health,” said Tim Schultz, president and executive director of the Boettcher Foundation.

The program was launched in 2008 and named its first class in 2010. The Boettcher Foundation invests more than $1.5 million into the effort each year.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.