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 vice dean for innovation and development at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson a co-director of the 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.
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.
“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. I’m extremely grateful for the generosity and vision of the Luxford and Schoolcraft families. Endowments to the UA Foundation for the Sarver Heart Center provide support in perpetuity,” says Dr. Gregorio. “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.”