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College of Health Sciences

Biomedical Sciences Program with the School of Pharmacy

Graduate assistant Rui Gou does research in a pharmacy lab.Rui Guo is currently a Ph. D graduate assistant in Dr. Sreejayan Nair’s lab in the Biomedical Sciences Program of School of Pharmacy. Since 2015, she has published 3 review articles, 1 research article, 1 book chapter, and 3 conference abstracts in Circulation and Diabetes as first author. To date, she has nearly thirty peer-reviewed publications and abstracts in high quality international journals including Autophagy, Journal of Hepatology and European Heart Journal, all of which with the impact factor from 11 to 15. Last two years, she attended several international conferences such as American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA), and presented three major research posters. This year, she had two more research manuscripts accepted by the International Journal of Obesity and Scientific Reports, respectively.

Her research direction and interest focuses on discovering novel targets for the prevention or the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, hepatic disorders and diabetic complications. She uses transgenic mice and cell cultures, and uses standard cellular and molecular biology/physiology techniques to explore their pathophysiology and molecular mechanisms.

Rui states, “Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer worldwide. Alcohol abuse, diabetes, obesity and anticancer chemotherapy treatment all contribute to the development of heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) and heart failure. We need to explore new targets and new drugs to treat cardiovascular disease in urgent, because any unhealthy lifestyle and drug usage can cause severe heart problems”.

One of her significant finding is that individuals with higher levels of ethanol dehydrogenase (ADH) facilitates acetaldehyde production in the blood following alcohol intake, and it triggers cardiac autophagosome formation along with impaired lysosomal degradation, en route to myocardial defect. She also found that overexpression of acetaldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) could be a good candidate to attenuate the alcohol intake-induced cardiac and hepatic dysfunctions, and contributes to the treatment of these diseases. During her Ph.D, her research interest currently focuses on the role of cathepsin K in cardiomyopathy and diabetic complications. She found that upregulation of cathepsin K in these diseased mouse models contributes to the cardiac dysfunction and cardiomyopathy progress. Cathepsin K inhibition or deletion mitigated alcohol abuse and diabetes-associated cardiac anomalies, indicating cathepsin K may represent a potential target and attractive strategy to prevent or treat cardiomyopathy. “Cathepsin K, a cysteine protease, can cleave specific proteins and contributes to the development of heart failure. It is just like a pair of scissors that cut off the necessities and produces variety of harmful substances in our body under some circumstances.” She explained.

“The preclinical research is extremely important in our collage because it is the most important theoretical and experimental basis for the implementation of any clinical trials. Without this basic research, new drug development and marketing will be impossible”. She added. “Not like other social work and descriptive studies, without basic pathophysiologic, pharmaceutical and molecular biologic knowledge, it is hard to understand the importance and significance of our basic research. I hope our important basic research will not be neglected in the future”.


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