Inventors of the Month - January 2017

This article was posted on: January 31, 2017

Robert Gourdie, Linda Jourdan, and Jingbo Jiang

“Novel Compositions and Methods for Heart Ischemia Reperfusion Injury”

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes Robert Gourdie, Linda Jourdan, and Jingbo Jiang as Inventors of the Month for the invention “Novel Compositions and Methods for Heart Ischemia Reperfusion Injury,” disclosed to Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc.

Ischemic heart disease is the biggest cause of death and disease among men worldwide and the second biggest killer of women, just behind ischemic stroke. The Inventors of the Month have developed a drug that can be given after an ischemic event such as a myocardial infarction (heart attack). This drug preserves heart muscle, reduces scarring, and prevents the progression to heart failure that many patients who are suffering from ischemic heart disease and myocardial infarction undergo. It is also anticipated that this drug will have medicinal uses in preventing brain loss following ischemic stroke, as it targets a common cell injury pathway in the heart and brain.

So while it will always be better to prevent heart attacks through a heart-healthy lifestyle and medications, thanks to these inventors there may soon be a medicine to reduce recurrent heart attacks.



Jane Jourdan and Robert Gourdie

Rob Gourdie is Director of the Center for Heart and Regenerative Medicine (CHARM) at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) and a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech. Gourdie is co-founder of FirstString Research Inc (founded 2006) - a clinical-stage biotech company, now in Phase III clinical trials on its lead drug, which was developed in Gourdie’s lab. Gourdie has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1997, including as Program Director of a NICHD program project grant. He has authored 150+ peer-reviewed publications on heart development and function, wound healing and cancer. He holds more than a dozen issued patents, with another 50 patent applications pending. His research is on the connexins, proteins key to intercellular communication, including basic mechanisms of cardiac bio-electricity and translational research on drugs targeting connexin function in heart disease, wound healing, and oncology. Gourdie received his Ph.D. (1990) from the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), and did post-doc training at University College London (United Kingdom), as a British Heart Foundation Fellow.
Jane Jourdan is the lab manager of the Gourdie laboratory at VTCRI. Jane has a B.S. (1988) in biochemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington. In addition to being a research lab administrator, Jane is a skilled cell and molecular biology technician. Gourdie and Jourdan have worked together since 2000. She has 12 publications and is inventor on patents and patent applications on pharmaceuticals targeting the activity connexins. A number of these patents have been licensed, and compounds that she has co-invented are in clinical trials.
Jingbo (Jenny) Jiang is a pediatrician in the department of neonatology at Guangdong Province Women and Children’s Hospital in Guangzhou, China. She is also completing a Ph.D. at the Guangzhou Medical College. As part of her doctoral studies she spent time training in research at VTCRI in Rob Gourdie’s lab. Her training in medicine included a Bachelor of Medicine (2005) at Sun Yat-sun University and a Masters of Medical Science (2008) at Guangzhou Medical College in Guangzhou, China. Jiang received a number of important distinctions during her medical training, including the prize for the most Outstanding Graduate Paper at Guangzhou Medical College in 2008. She has published 4 papers and currently has a paper in preparation with Rob Gourdie and Jane Jourdan that details the invention featured today.

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