A short educational film on the human heart was all that was needed to set College of Graduate Studies student Daniel DelloStritto on his current path. DelloStritto is now working under the direction of Ian Bratz, Ph.D., assistant professor of Integrative Medical Sciences, to examine the connection between diabetes and the regulation of blood flow in the heart.
Individuals living with diabetes have two to four times increased mortality from cardiovascular disease when compared to those without diabetes. DelloStritto’s research will help to identify drugs that will keep blood flowing to the heart so it will continue to function properly, even in a diabetic state.
“I want to broaden the understanding of how diabetes causes proteins to malfunction,” said DelloStritto. “It can be fatal when someone with diabetes is not getting enough blood to their heart tissue. We’re working on identifying new pathways to better understand what goes wrong and hopefully one day fix it.”
DelloStritto’s research is being aided by the American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship award that helps cover his stipend, benefits, research supplies and travel.
“Only 16 percent of AHA grant applications are successful, which speaks to Daniel’s abilities as a researcher,” said Dr. Bratz. “He has built a very impressive resume in a short time and the AHA fellowship award is yet another honor he’s earned through his hard work and dedication.”
DelloStritto also recently began his tenure as the president of the American Physician Scientist Association, a national student-run organization of aspiring physician-scientists. He’ll be responsible for managing several committees, overseeing the budget and publications, creating partnerships with similar organizations and increasing grassroots efforts for local chapters. The highlight of this organization is their annual meeting held in April.
“I consider myself fortunate for all the opportunities to do something I love in such a supportive environment,” said DelloStritto. “I have always found the heart fascinating- it’s a simple organ but also very elegant in its simplicity.”