An Indian American graduate student at the University of South Alabama, Naga Annamdevula, was recently awarded an American Heart Association grant.

Annamdevula, as well as fellow University of South Alabama graduate student Emily Turner, will put the $52,000 grant towards helping support doctoral research as part of an interdisciplinary biomedical engineering track.

It is a collaborative effort between the university's College of Medicine graduate program in basic medical science and the College of Engineering.

“The ultimate goal of this merger was to develop a synergistic educational environment that promoted collaboration between the various disciplines,” College of Medicine dean Dr. Samuel J. Strada said in a statement.

The biomedical engineering track was launched six years ago.

“Naga and Emily are both very qualified and promising doctoral students working on highly interdisciplinary biomedical engineering projects," Dr. Silas Leavesley, who teaches in the program, added. "Having both of them receive a highly competitive, nationally recognized extramural fellowship is a testament to the dynamic and interdisciplinary training environment we have been working to establish between the Colleges of Engineering and Medicine.”

Annamdevula, a native of Rajahmundry, India, is working with her research mentors Leavesley and Dr. Thomas Rich on the two-year grant.

Her research work is titled, "Spatial distribution of PDE4 isoforms regulates cAMP compartmentalization and endothelial barrier permeability in PMVECs.”

“The major focus of my research is to study the role of Phosphodiesterases in regulating cAMP signal specificity and thus maintain the endothelial permeability,” Annamdevula said in a statement. “Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. A key characteristic of ARDS is disruption of the endothelial barrier of the blood vessel leading to pulmonary edema.”

The research she is conducting is based on a five-dimensional imaging process, accounting for x, y and z spatial components, as well as time and hyperspectral components.

Her work helps untangle concepts that can be "clinically translated and will be used to better understand the disease progress and treatment and improve the quality of living."

Her research — half engineering; half biological science — helps provide more insight towards biological approaches.

The Indian American student received a B.Tech degree in India and a master's in the U.S. in chemical engineering.

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