Luxford/Schoolcraft Endowed Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Research

Carol Gregorio, PhD, director of the Molecular Cardiovascular Research Program and head of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the UA College of Medicine, is the Luxford/Schoolcraft Endowed Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Research. Dr. Gregorio also is a co-director of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center.

As a basic scientist, she has a special research interest in the contractile proteins of heart muscle in health and disease. Not only has she made major contributions to the understanding of heart muscle abnormalities, she also has been an integral part of the UA College of Medicine’s and Sarver Heart Center’s goal to strengthen its translational research. “It’s important to understand that discoveries made in the laboratory are inspired by clinically relevant questions that challenge scientists to identify mechanisms so that we can improve how we address human disease,” says Dr. Gregorio.

Dr. Gregorio’s laboratory research is focused on identifying the components and molecular mechanisms regulating actin architecture in cardiac and skeletal muscle during normal development and disease. Actin is an indispensable protein and a major component of heart muscle. Changes in actin, caused by genetic mutations that have been identified in humans, are a frequent cause of cardiomyopathies. Her research team is determining how genetic defects in this protein affect muscle force generation and muscle contraction, a state that leads to heart failure and may lead to sudden cardiac death.

“We are very excited about the progress that our basic scientists have made under Carol’s leadership. She has helped direct the UA Sarver Heart Center’s support of promising pilot studies that have led to national funding for their research studies–important in achieving our vision of a future free of heart disease and stroke,” says Gordon A. Ewy, MD, director of the Sarver Heart Center.

“I’m extremely grateful for the generosity and vision of the Luxford and Schoolcraft families. This endowed professorship will enable our laboratory to initiate novel projects related to heart development, heart failure and sudden cardiac death that otherwise would not be possible,” says Dr. Gregorio.

Robert and Betty Luxford were long-standing supporters of science and promoting philanthropic investment of scholarships through the ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Foundation–Phoenix Chapter. After visiting the UA Sarver Heart Center, as part of an ARCS’ tour, the Luxfords made the generous and thoughtful decision to include the Sarver Heart Center in their estate plan.

In early 2009, Mr. Carlton D. Schoolcraft sent a letter to Dr. Ewy stating that he and his wife, Virginia, had admired the work of the Center and Dr. Ewy for many years. While not patients of Dr. Ewy’s, the Schoolcrafts were compelled to improve the lives of those suffering from cardiovascular disease through a very generous estate provision. “We are honored by gifts such as these. People like Mr. and Mrs. Luxford, and Mr. and Mrs. Schoolcraft have entrusted us with their legacies. This is not something we take lightly or for granted. To be able to name a fund after these individuals will help to remind each of us that we can continue to make a major difference. Endowments to the UA Foundation for the Sarver Heart Center provide support in perpetuity,” says Dr. Ewy. ♥