Cardiovascular disease from the inside
This year, UIC honors 10 outstanding researchers with the Researcher of the Year Award, a $5,000 cash prize. Five established faculty members were named Distinguished Researchers and five early career scientists were honored as Rising Stars.
Basic Life Sciences
In many ways Xiaoping Du, professor of pharmacology in the College of Medicine, exemplifies the UIC ideal: superb scholarship with tremendous potential for translation into medical applications.
Since joining the UIC faculty in 1996, Du has explored different aspects of blood platelets and their remarkable transformations — transformations that play a major role in cardiovascular disease.
His research is a point of reference for investigators in his field, said Saverio Ruggeri, director of the Roon Research Center for Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis at the Scripps Research Institute.
Du’s lab explores the causes of platelet stickiness that allow platelets to clump together or stick to a blood vessel wall. In a study published in Science in 2009, Du described the first step in platelets and other types of cells that allows them to flatten out. This flattening precedes clot formation, immune defense, wound healing, cell growth and the spread of cancer cells.
Du also studies an important receptor that acts almost as a hook, allowing the platelet to slow and catch onto the blood vessel wall.
Du’s observations have direct relevance to the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. He has developed, and begun to patent, new inhibitors that have been shown to be effective in treating thrombosis — the central cause of heart attacks and stroke — and thrombosis in septic shock.
Du received his MD and a master’s in medicine from Suzhou Medical College, China, and a Ph.D. at the University of Sydney, Australia, before joining the Scripps Research Institute as a postdoctoral fellow.
He makes a commitment to furthering his field through service to journals and granting agencies, including scientific committees in the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association and the American Hematology Society.
Other Researchers of the Year