Amie Lund, assistant professor of biology, is researching the cardiovascular health effects of exposure to traffic-generated pollution. She found it is associated with higher levels of oxidized "bad" cholesterol in your body, which can contribute to the progression of cardiovascular disease.
"We know heart attacks and strokes typically start with fatty plaque buildup," says Lund, who is hopeful her research will lead to improved therapeutic options to help treat or prevent stroke and cardiovascular problems, especially in regions that experience high levels of air pollution. "Now we want to understand how exposure to air pollution is making that plaque grow bigger in our blood vessels, which can lead to the onset of a heart attack, or if the plaque ruptures, it can result in a stroke."
Lund is experimenting to see how different types of air pollutants can change cell signaling patterns in the cardiovascular system on a molecular level, to better understand how they may contribute to diseases.