Swapnil Sonkusare, PhD, Awarded $2.5 Million to Study the Vascular Mechanisms that Elevate Blood Pressure in Obesity

May 14, 2024 by

Swapnil Sonkusare

Swapnil Sonkusare, PhD

Swapnil Sonkusare, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics and UVA’s Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center, was awarded a $2.5 million grant to study the vascular mechanisms that elevate blood pressure in obesity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, more than 40 percent of American adults suffer from obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor for hypertension (elevated blood pressure) and other cardiovascular problems, which are among the leading causes of preventable death.

Small arteries in our body control blood pressure. Studies have shown that hypertension in obesity is related to abnormalities in the endothelial cell layer that lines these arteries. Under normal conditions, calcium entry into endothelial cells through TRPV4 ion channels maintains normal blood pressure. In obesity, TRPV4 ion channels in endothelial cells cannot function normally, resulting in increased blood pressure, a discovery by Dr. Sonkusare and his team that was covered in a UVA Health story here. 

Dr. Sonkusare’s proposed research will provide in-depth knowledge about the pathological mechanisms that decrease the function of TRPV4 ion channels and, therefore, calcium entry into endothelial cells in obesity. The overall goal is to identify new therapeutic targets for limiting the harmful effects of these pathological mechanisms on blood pressure in obesity.


Filed Under: Research