Josh Hutcheson, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Florida International University’s College of Engineering & Computing, has been awarded a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to support his research into a common and often-lethal condition in people with chronic kidney disease.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among the 37 million people in the U.S. who have chronic kidney disease (CKD). The NIH grant will support Hutcheson’s research into calcification in the blood vessels that can lead to heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems for those with CKD. Hutcheson’s research focuses on decreasing the build-up of calcification, which may have a significant health impact.“

An imbalance of calcium and phosphate, and a decrease in kidney function in patients with CKD, can lead to hard plaque in the blood vessels,” Hutcheson said. “We are still trying to understand the mechanism that causes the formation of this bone-like mineral. The fact that we have identified commercially available drugs that seem to stop the process, however, is very encouraging.”

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