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Maine Medical Center Researcher Receives Prestigious American Heart Association Award 

Why Does Obesity Lead to Heart Disease?  Ilka Pinz, PhD, a researcher at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute received a prestigious award from the American Heart Association (AHA) to study this question. 

Research has shown a link between obesity and heart disease. The question asked by Dr. Pinz is, why?  More specifically, why does an increase in lipids- the compounds that make up the fat found in the human body - cause the heart to become diseased? 

"Having too much saturated fat in your body disturbs the balance of natural fat that makes up part of the cell membrane," says Dr. Pinz, "This is what causes the heart to lose its ability to pump blood efficiently." 

Dr. Pinz' research suggests that early treatment for the effects of obesity could prevent the development of associated medical problems, such as heart disease. And she believes that her research may eventually lead to the development of that treatment. 

Dr. Pinz' research is funded by an AHA Scientist Development Grant, which is awarded to promising young scientists to help them move from completion of their research training to the status of independent investigator. She was granted $308,000 for her four-year project. "Dr. Pinz is an innovative and very capable scientist, and her research has enormous promise," says MMCRI Director Donald St. Germain, MD "It's very gratifying to see her work recognized by the American Heart Association with this prestigious award." 

Maine Medical Center, through the Maine Medical Center Research Institute supports and encourages a broad spectrum of research, including laboratory based basic research, clinical trials, outcomes research and psychiatric research. 

Maine Medical Center (MMC) is a complete health care resource for the people of Greater Portland and the entire state, as well as northern New England. Incorporated in 1864, MMC is the state’s largest medical center, licensed for 637 beds and employing more than 6,000 people. MMC's unique role as both a community hospital and a referral center requires an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including an active educational program and a world-class biomedical research center. As a nonprofit institution, Maine Medical Center provides nearly 23 percent of all the charity care delivered in Maine. MMC is a member of the MaineHealth system, a growing family of health care services in southern, central, and western Maine.

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