Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2017 - 3
Understanding Heart Disease
rensselaer/fall 2017 3
The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies was buzzing
with activity over the summer, with more than 200 undergraduate and graduate
students conducting research that will impact the global challenges facing
humanity. In the lab of Douglas Swank, associate professor of biological sciences,
researchers are using Drosophila (commonly known as the fruit fly) as a model
organism to unravel some of the biggest mysteries of the human heart.
Swank has received funding from the National Institutes of Health to seek the
molecular causes of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or enlarged heart disease.
Using Drosophila enables Swank and his team to study aspects of the disease
that cannot be studied in humans, other model organisms, or cell culture.
"Our goal is to try to understand the molecular mechanism behind this disease
so that we can help develop better treatments," Swank says.