Physician-scientist Jane Freedman focuses on improving cardiovascular health

I’m Jane Freedman. I am the Edward
Budnitz Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at
the University of Massachusetts Medical School. My research has transitioned
somewhat over the years. But I’ve always
fundamentally been interested in what
causes the clots that lead people to have
heart attacks and strokes. We still study the cells that
are responsible for this, which are called platelets. But the research
in my laboratory has greatly expanded
to also looking at sources of RNA in the
blood and how these things may contribute to a wide
different myriad of diseases, including cardiovascular
disease, stroke, cancer and other areas. Our immediate goals
are to continue to characterize
how platelets are important in things beyond
thrombosis, such as immunity and infection. For instance, people
in my laboratory have been looking
at the importance of platelets in the
common flu that people get over the winter. In the area of gene expression
and RNA in the circulation, we continue to look
at different patterns and different
populations to determine how these different patterns
are important for diseases. And we’ve been most
immediately expanding it into broader racial
and ethnic groups so we can get a better handle
on both young pediatric populations as well as
older-aged populations in a wider group of people. One of our ultimate goals
for the research is twofold. First, to develop potential
biomarkers that can help predict diseases that people
might have in the future, specifically for diseases that
are more difficult to diagnose in the future, such as stroke. And also potentially by defining
these diseases with different kinds of RNA is
potentially coming up with new targets
for therapeutics.

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