February 3, 2020
Dr. Ling Mei

The College of Pharmacy is pleased to announce that Dr. Ling Mei, a research fellow in Anna Schwendeman’s laboratory, has been awarded an American Heart Association (AHA) Postdoctoral Fellowship. This competitive, two-year fellowship was awarded by AHA for Ling’s research proposal titled, “Synthetic high-density lipoprotein mediated delivery of bioactive lipids for the treatment of cardiovascular disease”. The goals of her proposal are to augment anti-inflammatory activity of synthetic HDL nanoparticles by incorporating different signaling lipids and to evaluate the ability of these nanoparticles to treat endothelial dysfunction caused by cardiovascular disease.

 “Endothelial dysfunction is the basis of several serious cardiovascular disorders, including atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and aortic aneurysms. With cardiovascular disease on the rise in Western societies, discovery of more effective treatments is imperative,” explains Dr. Ling Mei. “Infusion of synthetic HDL products have shown an ability to reduce atheroma in patients. A large 17,400-patient Phase 3 study is currently ongoing to test the ability of synthetic HDL infusions to reduce the rate of cardiovascular events in patients. Sphingosine-1-phosphate and nitroalkene fatty acids derivatives are potent endogenous anti-inflammatory signaling lipids present in HDL that are known to restore endothelial function and elicit anti-inflammatory effects. However, due to their lipophilic nature and poor stability, signaling lipids are difficult to develop as traditional oral drugs. We plan to encapsulate signaling lipids in synthetic HDL nanoparticles and target the endothelium to treat cardiovascular disease at the root cause.”

Anna Schwendeman’s laboratory is grateful to the AHA for its continuing support. Dr. Schwendeman had been awarded the Scientist Development Grant (2013-2016). Six trainees from her laboratory had been awarded AHA fellowships, including two postdoctoral fellows, Wenmin Yuan (2015-2017) and Ling Mei (2020-2022); three predoctoral students, Rui Kuai (2015-2017), Minzhi Yu (2019-2021) and Maria Fawaz (2019-2021); and an undergraduate student, Kelsey Ernst (summer 2016). 

The goal of the AHA fellowship is to help junior scientists to initiate careers in cardiovascular and stroke research by providing them research assistance and training. AHA fellowships are very competitive and are reviewed by committees of national experts. The applications are reviewed based not only on the research proposal but also on the applicant’s academic record and individual development plan as well as the environment in which the research will take place. 

Congratulations to Dr. Ling Mei on this outstanding accomplishment!