Virus Induced Thrombosis Alliance (VITAL)

Principal Investigator

Research Priority Area

  • Cardiovascular

How to Join

Interested individuals should contact Dr. Beth Garvy or Dr. Wally Whiteheart to join the alliance and participate in its meetings and other activities.

Summary

Thrombosis, the formation of clots in blood vessels, lies at the root of the causes of many cardiovascular disease deaths such as strokes, heart attacks, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Infectious disease can increase the chance of this coagulation dysfunction, and some viral infections, including HIV1+/AIDS, double the risk of occlusive cardiovascular disease.

With funding from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s Research Alliance Initiative, the Virus Induced Thrombosis Alliance (VITAL) is investigating why infections cause an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The combination of cardiology and virology is critical, especially now, as the effect of COVID-19 on clotting becomes clear. VITAL’s initial focus on the thrombotic risks associated with HIV1+/AIDS has grown into a collaboration with the Bluegrass Care Clinic to examine coagulation dysfunction in COVID-19 patients.

Sidney W. Whiteheart, PhD, professor in the department of molecular and cellular biochemistry, is one of two principal investigators for VITAL. Dr. Whiteheart is an internationally recognized leader in the study of platelet cell biology as it relates to hemostasis and innate immunity. Beth Garvy, PhD, associate dean for biomedical education and professor in the department of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics, will serve as the other principal investigator. Dr. Garvy’s research focuses on Pneumocystis Carinii, a fungal pathogen that can cause pneumonia in immunosuppressed individuals, including AIDS patients.

VITAL has already launched clinical studies of monocytes, platelets, and coagulation factors in HIV1+/AIDS patients and SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 patients with varying severity of disease. The researchers are beginning a longitudinal study on changes in hemostasis occurring during SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 disease and recovery from it. While conducting these studies, VITAL is also reaching out internationally to establish a collaboration with the African Health Research Institute to expand analysis of patients with HIV1+/AIDS.

Alliance Members

  • Hammodah Alfar, Student – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
  • Meenakshi Banerjee, PhD, - University of Utah
  • George Davis, PharmD, Professor – College of Pharmacy
  • Beth A. Garvy, PhD, Associate Dean for Biomedical Education – Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
  • Muhammad Gul, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
  • Melissa Hollifield, Scientist – Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
  • Xian Li, PhD, Scientist – Cardiovascular Research Center
  • Thein Myint, MD, Associate Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
  • Zach Porterfield, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
  • Martha Sim, Student – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
  • Jamie Sturgill, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
  • Alice Thornton, MD, Division Chief – Department of Internal Medicine
  • Sidney W. Whiteheart, PhD, Professor – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
  • Jeremy P. Wood, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
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