Congratulations to not one but two teams of UVA scientists whose discoveries have been named among 2021's biggest biomedical advances by the editors of the STAT health news site.
Both discoveries are now duking it out in STAT Madness, a bracket tournament that is the scientific version of the NCAA basketball tournament. You can vote here to help determine the year's biggest biomedical advance.
Our first contender comes from Maria Luisa S. Sequeira-Lopez, MD, and her collaborator Ariel Gomez, MD. They discovered a "missing link" in our bodies' blood pressure controls that scientists have been seeking for six decades. Researchers long suspected that specialized kidney cells, called renin cells, contained natural barometers, or “baroreceptors,” that helped regulate blood pressure. But no one had been able to find these baroreceptors ... until now. The discovery could lead to new treatments for high blood pressure.
Our other contender comes from Christine Thisse, PhD, and her late husband, Bernard Thisse. They made a major breakthrough in the use of stem cells to mimic the natural development of mammals. The finding will help researchers understand mammalian development, battle diseases, create new drugs and, eventually, grow tissues and organs for people in need of transplants.
Good luck to both teams! Regardless of the outcome, we will all benefit from these tremendous discoveries.