Jalal Awarded NHLBI R01

Dr. Diana Jalal, Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Deputy Chief of Medicine at the VA, has been awarded a four-year, $2.3M grant from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study curcumin supplementation for improving vascular and cognitive function in chronic kidney disease (CKD). Patients with CKD are at increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Inflammation, oxidative stress, and vascular dysfunction (impaired endothelial function and increased large elastic artery stiffness) are highly prevalent in CKD and contribute to the high incidence of CVD in this patient population. In addition, patients with CKD suffer from high rates of cognitive decline for which effective therapies are lacking. Finding a means of treating inflammation, oxidative stress, vascular dysfunction, and cognitive impairment in one therapeutic intervention is of critical importance.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, is a natural polyphenol with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics. Preliminary data in old mice and healthy middle-aged (MA)/older adult humans indicate that curcumin administration improves endothelial dysfunction and large artery stiffness by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Additionally, 12 weeks of curcumin supplementation has improved episodic memory in MA/older adults. This grant will allow Dr. Jalal to extend these findings in healthy MA/older adults to patients with CKD, testing the hypothesis that curcumin improves vascular endothelial function and large elastic artery stiffness in MA/older adults with later-stage CKD. The study will be conducted in collaboration with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of Colorado Boulder Campus, and Stanford University.

Dr. Jalal returned to the University of Iowa on September 1, when she joined the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension and the VA. Most recently, she was an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver and the Clinical Director for Renal at the University of Colorado Hospital. Dr. Jalal received her MBBS from the University of Jordan in Amman, where she also did an internship before completing her residency at Iowa in Internal Medicine. After leaving Iowa City, she completed two fellowships—first, a clinical fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine, followed by a research fellowship at the University of Texas at Houston.

Dr. Jalal is a member of the American Heart Association’s Leadership Committee for the Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease and a member of the editorial boards for the journal Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease and the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. In her spare time, she enjoys running and playing the piano. Dr. Jalal is excited to be back in Iowa City working with the veterans and to take advantage of the innovation and talent in the Department of Internal Medicine (and other departments on campus) to expand her research.