Sanford-Burnham News Archive

Sanford-Burnham Researchers Awarded Two National Institutes of Health Grants

ORLANDO, Fla. , May 5, 2010

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona (SBMRI) is pleased to announce that two faculty members have received new grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) valued at more than $3.5 million dollars. Dr. Daniel Kelly, scientific director, Sanford-Burnham Institute at Lake Nona has been awarded a four-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for cardiac research and Dr. Sheila Collins, professor, has received a NIH R21 two-year grant to study fat metabolism.

Dr. Kelly and co-Principal Investigator Dr. Deborah M. Muoio, associate professor, Department of Medicine, Sarah W. Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center, Duke University, will share the NIH funds, valued at $2,984,043 over four years, to investigate the metabolic basis of heart failure. Despite significant advances in the treatment of cardiovascular disease over the past several decades, therapeutic approaches to prevent heart failure, a worldwide health threat, are limited. Evidence is emerging that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to the pathogenesis of heart failure.

To address this problem, Drs. Kelly and Muoio have assembled a multi-disciplinary team that will apply genomic and metabolomic strategies to better characterize the disease process and identify new drug targets for heart failure. This grant was made possible due in part to the recent collaboration between SBMRI in Florida and the Stedman Center at Duke University. Other collaborators include Dr. Kapil Kapoor, Sanford-Burnham Institute, and Dr. Alan D. Attie, professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Sheila Collins, professor, Sanford-Burnham Institute, received a new NIH R21 grant valued at $525,250 over two years, to study the novel role of beta-adrenergic receptors on fat cells to regulate a growth-promoting process not normally associated with adrenaline action. Given the integral role of adipose tissue in the development of metabolic syndrome, this research project promotes basic understanding of the biology of the fat cell and could assist in identifying new targets for drug intervention.

Dr. Collins’ principal area of research is fat metabolism as it relates to diabetes and obesity. Her laboratory studies how fat cells control the storage and release of energy by examining the signaling machinery that relays the adrenaline signal. Until the mid-1990s, adipose tissue had been largely considered an inert storage depot for excess metabolic fuel, much like a savings bank. There is now a deeper appreciation that fat cells themselves secrete key hormones that play significant roles in the regulation of body weight and insulin sensitivity. Prior to joining the Sanford-Burnham faculty in February, Dr. Collins was a Hamner Senior Fellow in Endocrine Biology at The Hamner Institute and held a faculty position at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina.

About Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is dedicated to discovering the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Sanford-Burnham takes a collaborative approach to medical research with major programs in cancer, neurodegeneration and stem cells, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory, and childhood diseases. The Institute is recognized for its National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and expertise in drug discovery technologies. Sanford-Burnham is a nonprofit, independent institute that employs more than 1,000 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at

Sanford-Burnham can also be found on Facebook at and on Twitter @sanfordburnham.

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