DMSC Postdoctoral Fellow Receives MSFHR Research Trainee Awards




Dr. Sorabh Sharma, DMSC postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Craig Brown’s laboratory, has won a highly competitive Research Trainee Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR). He is one of 38 outstanding BC researchers to receive an award this year.

The Research Trainee Program provides salary support for health researchers in the training phase of their research career. According to Dr. Bev Holmes, MSFHR president and CEO, the aim for these awards is to support early career researchers and their work that will “improve BC health care for decades to come.” Sharma has received funding for three years.  

Sharma’s research, titled “New strategies for unclogging microcirculatory obstructions in the healthy and diabetic brain,” will focus on characterizing brain capillaries obstruction and pruning rates, as well as developing a mechanistic understanding of the clearance of obstructions, in both healthy and diabetic brain.

Capillaries are the site of nutrient and gas exchange, and they are critical for maintaining brain function. Recent work from the Brown Lab has shown brain capillaries routinely get clogged by cells and debris, even under healthy conditions. While most of these clogs clear within seconds to minutes, some can remain stuck for much longer. Also, about one third of these clogged capillaries were eliminated from the blood vessel network and never get replaced. There are certain conditions, including diabetes, which can increase the risk of clogged blood vessels in the brain.

“More importantly, various neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, have also been associated with a loss in the microvasculature,” says Sharma. “This interesting project might confirm why diabetic patients are at increased risk to develop neurodegenerative diseases.”

Sharma adds that we still do not have a good mechanistic understanding of how to clear these capillary clogs, or even what impact the clogs have on brain function. Understanding these aspects will be the focus of his study.