The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel betacoronavirus strain responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant proportion of critically ill patients develop widespread systemic inflammation and multiorgan system involvement. The virus has also been associated with a surge of serious thrombotic events. Moreover, COVID-19 is has increased hospitalization rates. This uptick in hospitalizations— along with the rising incidence of thrombosis in these acute medically ill patients—underscores the need for more research. To address this need, NATF has awarded two grants to support outstanding research and career development through June 2021.

GRANT RECIPIENT 1:

Shuchi Gulati, MD, MSc

Dr. Gulati completed her hematology/oncology fellowship in 2018 and is currently in the Internal Medicine Scholarly Training for Academic Research (IMSTAR) fellowship program at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She pursued a Master of Science in clinical and translational research during this fellowship. Dr. Gulati is a clinical investigator and along with clinical trial design, her research interests include patient outcomes in cancer-associated thrombosis.

PROJECT: CANCER AND COVID-19

Cancer is a known risk factor for thrombotic complications. COVID-19 associated coagulopathy is emerging as a new complication related to infection with the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus. The proposed aims of the project are tol help clarify the incidence of arterial and venous thrombotic outcomes in patients receiving high-risk treatments for their cancer and suffering from COVID-19 infection. Data will be used from the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19), which is the largest registry-based dataset to date recording outcomes of patients with cancer and COVID-19.

GRANT RECIPIENT 2:

Alec A. Schmaier, MD, PhD

Dr. Schmaier is a cardiologist who specializes in vascular medicine. In 2020, he joined the faculty at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Under the mentorship of Drs. Samir Parikh and Robert Flaumnehaft, Dr. Schmaier researches how blood vessel dysfunction predisposes to blood clotting and other vascular disorders. He obtained his MD/PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his internal medicine residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He completed fellowships in cardiology and vascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

PROJECT: VASCULAR BIOMARKERS IN COVID-19 RESPIRATORY DISEASE  AND COAGULOPATHY

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how pervasive the formation of blood clots is among patients suffering from severe COVID-19. Our research group has previously identified endothelial cell protein networks that become dysfunctional during critical illness, and especially so when that illness is complicated by abnormal blood clotting. This finding led us to propose that abnormalities in endothelial cell pathways may lead to thrombosis in COVID-19. Our project will investigate whether dysregulation of specific endothelial cell-signaling pathways are associated COVID-19 disease severity and blood clotting abnormalities and whether modulation of these pathways can affect clotting risk in experimental systems. We hope this study will provide key preclinical evidence to support the use of endothelial cell-targeted therapy to prevent thrombotic complications of COVID-19.