Published: 2021-11-18 14:51 | Updated: 2021-11-18 15:34

Ralph Knöll awarded for research about sex differences in heart function

Ralph Knöll, Adjunct Professor of Myocardial Genetics at the Department of Medicine Huddinge and AstraZeneca. Photo: Bildmakarna

Adjunct Professor Ralph Knöll at the Department of Medicine in Huddinge, is awarded the BIH Excellence Award for studying the genetic causes of heart disease in women and men. In his project Ralph and his team will analyse fibrosis and changes in heart size, both of which are major risk factors for human heart failure.

Adjunct Professor Ralph Knöll from ICMC/Metabolism and the Department of Medicine Huddinge, Karolinska Institutet and AstraZeneca, receives this year’s BIH Excellence Award for Sex and Gender Aspects in Health Research from the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH). 

The project "Sex-dependent impact of constitutive myosin light chain phosphorylation on cardiac function”, aims to explore the effects of a genetic modification in an important heart muscle component on heart function. Furthermore, Ralph and his research team will analyse fibrosis and changes in heart size, both of which are major risk factors for human heart failure.

Research to unravel mechanisms behind human cardiac disease

Cardiovascular diseases are among the most common diseases in both men and women worldwide. Cardiac insufficiency or heart failure and coronary artery disease, often differ depending on gender. The causes also vary between men and women, but currently there are no specific treatment options for women or men. To find a solution to this, Ralph Knöll and his team will look at gender-specific differences in mice. They will study a genetic modification in mice that causes a particular muscle protein (myosin) to be constantly active, contributing to the loss of function in heart muscle cells and to the development of fibrosis and severe enlargement of the left atrium.

Ralph Knöll has a strong interest in genetics, physiology and pharmacology of the cardiovascular system. With his translational research he aims to unravel the epigenetic mechanisms underlying the biology of human cardiac disease. The goal is to use these findings as a basis for developing new therapies for heart failure.

The BIH Excellence Award for Sex and Gender Aspects in Health Research, aims to bring more visibility to sex and gender issues in translational research. The recipients of the award receive €25,000 to support and further develop the joint research project with BIH partners. 

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Ralph Knoell Adjunct professor