Team Receives Promotions, Awards

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ANTONIO ABBATE, MD, PhD

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STEFANO TOLDO, PhD

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SALVATORE CARBONE, MS

Several members of the Clinical and Translational Research Program have recently been in the news.

The Director of the Clinical Research Services Unit, Antonio Abbate, MD, PhD, was selected for the VCU School of Medicine 2016 Distinguished Mentor Award and will be recognized at a September 21 ceremony.

“The passion he puts in his work is very inspiring,” says Salvatore Carbone, MS, an instructor of medicine, who has worked with Abbate since December 2013. “Even though he is very busy, you know he is always there and available to help—to sit down with you and help find a solution to overcome potential obstacles.”

He adds, “I could not ask for a better mentor here at VCU.”

Molecular biologist Stefano Toldo, PhD, was named an assistant professor and laboratory manager of this “bench to bedside” program in September 2015. Toldo received his PhD from the Catholic University of Rome, Italy, and joined the VCU Health Pauley Heart Center in 2009, first as a research assistant, then a post-doctoral fellow.

“Stefano was referred to me by my prior mentor in Rome, Professor Crea, and I recruited him,” says Abbate. “When he first began, it was only he and I in the lab. We worked hard, shoulder-to-shoulder, for many long hours, but quite rapidly Stefano became the person in charge in the lab, and it was only logical that when he joined the faculty in 2015 that he would take over the direction of our lab, which has now grown to include several assistants and students.”

Toldo’s research focuses on acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, inflammation, cardioprotection, and diabetes, and he has been a first or corresponding author on more than 50 publications in the past six years.

“Stefano is incredibly hardworking, tireless, and he can do the work with a constant smile on his face,” says Abbate. “He is very smart and skilled, and is capable of complex work in molecular biology, pathophysiology, and translational research. We are lucky to have Stefano at VCU.”

Salvatore Carbone, MS, is a dietician who joined the Pauley Heart Center in November 2013 as a research assistant. Carbone, who holds a master’s in Molecular and Nutritional Biology from the University of Urbino ‘Carlo Bo’ in Italy, was promoted to instructor of medicine in 2015, and is now leading his own research studies on how diet, body composition, and glucose-lowering medications affect heart failure in patients with diabetes.

In May, he received a two-year, $154,000 American Heart Association grant to investigate the molecular mechanisms and the efficacy of a new type 2 diabetes FDA-approved class of drugs known as sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors in patients with systolic heart failure.

In May, he received a two-year, $154,000 American Heart Association grant to investigate the molecular mechanisms and the efficacy of a new type 2 diabetes FDA-approved class of drugs known as sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors in patients with systolic heart failure. 

“SGLT-2 inhibitors represent the first anti-diabetic class of drugs with beneficial cardiovascular effects not necessarily related to the improvements in blood glucose control, and have the potential to become the drug of choice in patients that have both heart failure and diabetes,” he says.

According to Abbate, “Salvatore is very talented and, despite his young age, he is knowledgeable and clinically skilled. He is driven to excellence and to success.” He notes, “I am extremely confident that with his skills and determination, Salvatore will significantly expand the research of nutrition, metabolism, and heart failure at VCU and help improve the health and lives of our patients at VCU.”