Cardiovascular researcher and professor Robson Augusto Souza dos Santos of the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte has been awarded the Georg Forster Research Award by Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The 60,000 euro ($65,000) award will boost his longstanding cooperation with professor Michael Bader’s research group at Berlin’s Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association.
Santos’ research focuses on angiotensin peptides. which are part of an intricate system of hormones and enzymes known as the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), tasked with regulating the water and salt balance of the body as well as blood pressure.
In 1988, during a research stay at the Cleveland Clinic, Santos discovered a novel angiotensin peptide called Ang-(1-7). He showed that this angiotensin has a protective function and is an antagonist of angiotensin II, which causes blood pressure to rise.
Later, in collaboration with professor Bader at the MDC, Santos discovered that Ang-(1-7) plays a protective role in inflammation and cardiovascular disease and also has a protective effect on metabolic control. This collaboration has already led to the development of novel drugs for treating cardiovascular disease and also to several joint patents.
The award will allow Santos to spend several months at the MDC in 2015 and 2016, working Bader’s team on the analysis of the functions of alamandine, another hormone of the renin-angiotensin system which he and Bader recently discovered.
A life in science
Santos was born in Rio de Janeiro in December 1951 and studied biology and medicine in São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. He has been on the faculty of the renowned Federal University of Minas Gerais, one of the largest universities in Brazil, since 1984, and became a tenured professor there in 2002.
Santos is a past president of the Interamerican Society of Hypertension, the Brazilian Society of Physiology and the Brazilian Society of Hypertension. He is also a member of the Brazilian Academy of Science and of the Council for High Blood Pressure of the American Heart Association.
Photo courtesy of UFMG