The research interest of Tong Lu, M.D., Ph.D., is focused on understanding the pathological role of vascular ion channels, particularly the large-conductance calcium-activated potassium channels (BK channels), in diabetic vascular complications. Dr. Lu's program employs well-established patch clamp and electrophysiological techniques, coupled with a wide range of cellular, biochemical and molecular approaches, to study the regulation of vascular ion channels in diabetic vessels. Using the coronary arteries of animals and people with type 2 diabetes who undergo cardiac surgery, his team works to establish the role of coronary smooth muscle BK channels on diabetic coronary dysfunction and to evaluate the therapeutic potentials of BK channels for vascular complications in diabetes.
- Regulation of vascular ion channels in diabetes. The main goal of Dr. Lu's research is to establish the pathological role of BK channels in diabetic vascular dysfunction, particularly in people with type 2 diabetes, and to further evaluate the therapeutic value of BK channels for diabetic vascular complications.
- Molecular mechanisms underlying vascular BK channel dysfunction in diabetes. Dr. Lu's research is focused on determining the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling pathways that regulate the function and protein expression of vascular BK channels in diabetes.
- Role of protein ubiquitination in the regulation of cardiovascular ion channel function in response to oxidative stress. An additional area of focus is to identify the specific ubiquitin E3 ligases that target vascular BK channel protein degradation and lead to BK channelopathy and vasculopathy in diabetes.
Significance to patient care
Diabetes mellitus has become a major epidemic, imposing enormous burdens on individuals and society. Diabetic vascular complications such as cardiovascular diseases, stroke, nephropathy and neuropathy are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among people with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Lu's research will improve understanding of the molecular mechanisms leading to BK channelopathy and vasculopathy in diabetes and help develop novel therapeutic strategies for diabetic vascular complications. His long-term goal is to develop novel modalities of clinical therapy to improve the quality of life in patients with diabetes.
- Innovative Basic Science Award, American Diabetes Association, 2016
- Basic Science Award, American Diabetes Association, 2012
- Junior Faculty Award, American Diabetes Association, 2007
- Member, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Biophysical Society
- Journal reviewer, American Journal of Physiology — Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology; Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology; British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research; Circulation Research; Diabetes; Free Radical Biology and Medicine; Journal of Cellular Physiology; Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology; The Journal of Physiology (London); PLOS One; Vascular Pharmacology