Mohamed Zayed received the 2015 Wylie Scholar award for his research on the role of phospholipids in the progression of peripheral arterial disease in the setting of diabetes. Patients afflicted with chronic diabetes are more likely to develop occlusions in the arteries of the lower leg. This can lead to decreased blood flow, and increased risk of wounds, ulcers, infection – and ultimately limb loss. It remains unclear why this process is more prevalent and accelerated in diabetic patients. Unraveling and understanding the molecular biology and biochemistry of this process is critically important given the increasing epidemic of diabetes in the Western world, the stubbornly high rates of leg amputations in this group of individuals, and to ultimately identify potential drug targets that can help decrease these life-altering diabetes-associated complications. “My research is currently directly exploring the role of lipid molecules in the leg arteries of diabetic and non-diabetic patients, and how we can modify these molecules in disease model systems to identify viable drug targets.”
It is estimated that 60% of the more than 130,000 non-traumatic lower extremity amputations performed annually in the US are in diabetic patients. The impact of these amputations is extraordinary with substantial perioperative patient morbidity and mortality, extended disability, and high socio-economic costs estimated at 3.1 billion Medicare dollars annually. Accordingly, the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) Research Council has recommended continued intensive scientific investigation of potential adjunct therapies that may optimize lower extremity re-vascularization strategies in these vulnerable patient populations. Dr. Zayed’s research is in line with these goals.
Dr. Zayed is a faculty member at the Washington University School of Medicine. Throughout his professional training, and over the last 15 years, he has been committed to biomedical research. From his days as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), where he had the opportunity to help develop and characterize a transgenic mouse model which culminated in the completion of an undergraduate honors thesis, to medical school at UNC, where he was selected to matriculate in the NIH-sponsored Medical Scientist Training Program. By the end of his medical/graduate training and his vascular surgery residency he had cemented his interests in vascular biology, and merged this interest with his passion for surgery and treating patients with severe vascular pathology. Dr. Zayed’s current research findings will provide the impetus for future translational studies that aim to improve peripheral arterial patency and limb preservation in diabetic patients.