By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Woo-Ping Ge (left) receives the Bugher-American Heart Association Dan Adams Thinking Outside the Box Award from James Weyhenmeyer, the inaugural awardee.

Woo-Ping Ge (left) receives the Bugher-American Heart Association Dan Adams Thinking Outside the Box Award from James Weyhenmeyer, the inaugural awardee.

HOUSTON – In helping lead the Henrietta B. and Frederick H. Bugher Foundation’s unprecedented support of stroke research, Dan Adams always pushed people to think beyond traditional boundaries. So it was only fitting that the foundation honored his passing by creating the Bugher-American Heart Association Dan Adams Thinking Outside the Box Award.

The initial awardee was honored at ISC last year and, on Wednesday, Woo-Ping Ge, Ph.D., was named the first grant recipient. He is an assistant professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern.

With the $150,000 grant, part of the $675,000 allocated for these awards, Ge will study the role of smooth-muscle cells in injured brains in hopes of learning more about the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms. The project involves a novel approach to inducing a reversible clot using magnetic nanoparticles within a blood vessel.

This means making precise changes to the small blood vessels in the brain to understand what the basic mechanisms are during brain injury. These changes are made using micromagnets that can clot and de-clot the vessels.

“Our approach will allow the investigation of the disruption and repair of the neurovascular unit in vivo under ischemic stroke,” Ge wrote. “This technology will allow us … to assess the involvement of smooth-muscle cells before occlusion, during occlusion and after reperfusion.”

By use of these micromagnets, blood vessels in the brain can be clotted to mimic ischemic stroke, then declotted (when blood flow returns back to normal in these vessels). This model will be helpful to study the role of smooth muscle cells in the brain blood vessels prior to clotting, during and after clot removal.

The Bugher Foundation has funded over $36 million in heart and stroke studies overseen by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, making the foundation among the AHA’s most generous research donors.

The Bugher Foundation began in 1961 under the leadership of Nelson Adams, Dan’s father. The foundation began working with the American Heart Association in the mid-1980s and a decade later Dan Adams joined his dad as a trustee.

Dan Adams, whose career was in advertising and branding, helped champion the foundation’s focus on funding stroke research. He blended his professional expertise and his stroke knowledge to help the AHA/ASA develop branding and focus for stroke campaigns.

Dan died in June 2015, and months later the Bugher Foundation — led by the remaining trustees: his sons Bryan and Bruce, and longtime fellow trustee Gayllis Ward — donated $675,000 to the AHA to establish this award. Its aim is to both recognize an individual who represents Dan’s commitment to new ways of thinking and to ensure the awardee directs funds towards an innovative research project.

The inaugural awardee was James Weyhenmeyer, Ph.D., the vice president for research and economic development at Georgia State University and the chairman of the Oversight Advisory Group for the American Stroke Association-Bugher Foundation Stroke Centers of Excellence, a $9.65 million, four-year project that involves teams of researchers at UCLA, the University of Colorado at Denver and the University of Miami. Weyhenmeyer held the same oversight role on the previous Bugher-ASA project.