Virginia Tech grad student awarded $101,000 NIH grant to study arteries

Posted at 4:24 PM, Feb 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-28 10:08:48-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A graduate student at Virginia Tech has been awarded a $101,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health because of a discovery she made that could help arteries recover from heart surgery.

Meghan Sedovy was working in the Johnstone lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in partnership with the Carilion Clinic when she discovered that arteries used in bypass surgeries often lose endothelial cells while awaiting transplant.

That could hinder the surgery's long-term success, because those cells keep blood vessels from leaking and when absent, clots could result with sometimes fatal results.

"It's really important to maintain endothelial health," Sedovy said. "We partnered with the surgeons [at Carilion] to identify ways to improve and maintain endothelial health during these surgeries. What we found was that we can store these veins used for surgery in a solution of patients' own blood instead of the standard saline solution. Based on our lab investigation, we see that endothelium looks to be healthier in these veins."

Meghan Sedovy
Meghan Sedovy

Sedovy said bypass surgery typically involves grafting a patient's saphenous vein taken from the leg, but that puts an enormous amount of stress on the blood vessel.

Sedovy said she was introduced to the medical field at a young age because her father is a doctor and she would go on rounds with him, visiting patients at the hospital.

"I knew that I wanted to be involved in medicine," Sedovy said. "When I went to Virginia Tech for my undergraduate studies, I identified that you don't have to be a doctor to improve medicine. You can also go the basic science route- understanding mechanisms of disease and trying to translate findings from the lab to the clinic."

She said she fell in love with research because advances at the cellular level can translate into positive outcomes for millions of patients.

"I don't have any major instances of heart disease in my family, but it is relevant to everyone," said Sedovy. "It is the number one killer in the U.S. It's a really important area for exploration, because if we make improvements in heart disease, we can help a gigantic amount of people since it affects so many people."

Sedovy saids her long-term goal is to create start-up companies that can deliver such innovations directly to doctors and their patients.

"It means everything," she said. "I think that's really the goal of everything I do, from findings that are directly translatable, and even findings that are just mechanistic understandings of disease, and where things go wrong in the body. All of that is focused towards improving health."

Do you know about a good news story happening in your community? Click here to email and the CBS 6 News team.

EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews



Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.