Wake Forest physicist recognized for sickle-cell research
May 1, 2007
Daniel Kim-Shapiro, professor of physics at Wake Forest University, recently received a MERIT Award from the National Institutes for Health to continue his pioneering research on sickle-cell anemia. Rarely granted, the MERIT (for Method to Extend Research in Time) awards extend funding for promising research without requiring the researcher to apply for additional funds.
The $343,920 MERIT award is renewable each year for up to 10 years.
Kim-Shapiro and his collaborators, including Bruce King in Wake Forest’s chemistry department, are investigating nitric oxide and how it might promote better blood flow in sickle-cell patients. Hemoglobin is carried through the bloodstream by red blood cells, which must squeeze through blood vessels to deliver oxygen to the body. In sickle-cell anemia, the red blood cells form rods and become rigid, which prevents them from passing through blood vessels.
The researchers contributed to the discovery that nitrite, a salt used to preserve food, is converted to nitric oxide in the body. They have already filed a patent for the use of nitrite for treating certain cardiovascular conditions. They also seek to understand more thoroughly how the nitrite-to-nitric oxide conversion process works and then pursue possible clinical applications of the salt in treatment of sickle cell anemia and other diseases.
Kim-Shapiro was a keynote speaker at the North Carolina Sickle Cell Program Conference held in Raleigh April 27. He joined the Wake Forest faculty in 1996.