Investigates the causes that lead to heart disease
Aikaterini Kontrogianni-Konstantopoulos is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Maryland, School Of Medicine. She led a group of scientists at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine (UM SOM), whose research has identified what may be a key player: a mutated gene that leads to irregular heartbeat, which can lead to a dangerously inefficient heart.
The findings were published in the journal Science Advances. The study is the first to illuminate details of how this particular gene, which is called OBSCN, works in heart disease. The gene produces proteins known as obscurins, which seem to be crucial to many physiologic processes, including heart function.
“This study gives us new information about the involvement of obscurins in the mechanics of heart disease. It suggests that people carrying a mutated version of OBSCN may develop heart disease,” said the senior author of the study, Aikaterini Kontrogianni-Konstantopoulos, one of several scientists who first discovered OBSCN in 2001. According to her, this work could eventually lead to targeted therapies for people who have OBSCN mutations.
She received her Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX in the Department of Cell Biology. After graduating from Baylor College of Medicine, she joined the laboratory of Dr. E.J. Benz, Jr., in the Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine in 1998, to study protein 4.1R, a peripheral membrane protein that was originally discovered in red blood cells. In 2001, she moved to the laboratory of Dr. R.J. Bloch, in the Department of Physiology, at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, as an Academic Fellow. In 2002, she was promoted to Research Associate, and 2003 to Research Assistant Professor. In 2007, she joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine as Assistant Professor in the tenure track.
She has also served as reviewer for several journals and study section panels (e.g., National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, American Heart Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Cancer Research Foundation, UK, National Cancer Science Center, PL, etc.).