Main Navigation

Quick Links

Academia in Action: Collaboration fuels innovation

Guillaume Hoareau joined the University of Utah in July 2019 after the innovation in the emergency medicine department caught his attention. Hoareau–an assistant professor in the department and an investigator at the Nora Eccles Harrison Cardiovascular Institute (CVRTI)–was the first Ph.D. scientist to join the department and saw that as a good challenge.

“It was a good opportunity to think about the continuum of translational research from basic science all the way to clinical trial,” he said. “I thought I would find the right collaborators here, if successful, to push through. I knew we could explore innovative strategies aimed at improving patient outcomes.”

Hoareau researches potential treatments for conditions that arise from ischemia-reperfusion injuries, which happens when blood flow returns to tissue after a period when that flow was restricted. This type of injury is a concern in multiple situations like trauma, organ transplants, hemorrhage, sepsis, and more.

Hoareau began studying catheter-based mechanical methods and treatments, but “I realized that mechanical adjuncts are important but are likely insufficient alone to improve what we’re trying to fight against, and so that’s why I started diving into potential medical adjuncts,” he said.

He turned to peptides–short strings of amino acids that can be the building blocks for proteins and have potential uses in treatments for multiple medical conditions–to see if they could work for ischemia-reperfusion injuries. In a recently published study, he explored a particular peptide’s ability to protect the mitochondria and mitigate potential damages after hemorrhage. This study demonstrated that mitochondrial protection was a promising target.

He connected with CVRTI Director Robin Shaw, who had discovered a peptide called GJA1-20k. Dr. Shaw had produced compelling data supporting that GJA1-20k was a good candidate. Shaw’s research focuses on heart failure and cardiac muscle biology.

“They were working in the myocardial dysfunction sphere and mostly used adenovirus delivery,” Hoareau said. Their method uses the adenoviruses to introduce genetic material to cells, but Hoareau had other plans. “Due to the nature of traumatic injuries, an adenovirus delivery was not a viable option. I decided to use the peptide as an adjunct to treat hemorrhage via direct injection in the blood vessels.”

His research is ongoing and is primarily driven by Department of Defense funding “because hemorrhage is the leading cause of preventable death in the battlefield, so it’s an important focus for them,” Hoareau said. While this research could significantly impact the military, the civilian population also suffers from hemorrhage, bleeding, and ischemia-reperfusion injuries. Hoareau’s research could have applications for patients in the OBGYN setting as well as transplant and cardiac arrest patients.

During his studies, he has delved into more mechanistic research to characterize cell responses. “I'm at this frontier between trying to push through with a potential medication while also doing basic science research to understand the mechanisms behind the benefits we observed,” he said.

As he applies for grants and focuses on the translational aspects of his work, the PIVOT Center has been able to help him with the parts of the process he said he’s unfamiliar with, “which is pretty much anything outside of the science.”

He met with PIVOT Director of Innovation Management Jason Young early in his research, and Young helped his team know when to time abstract submission. He’s since been able to receive advice and guidance on everything from disclosure requirements to patents, and he is currently working with Young to find a mentor through some of the PIVOT Center’s many innovation programs.

He also intends to work with PIVOT to get help with grants because many of them require a transition or commercialization plan to receive funding.

“My main advice would be to engage with PIVOT early to make sure that no mistakes are made early on that cannot be addressed,” Hoareau said.

Oh, hello!

Contact Form