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Gregory James Kato, M.D., is Head of the Sickle Cell Vascular Disease Section of the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Branch at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Kato joined NIH in 2003 and has been a tenure track investigator since 2008.
Dr. Kato’s laboratory group investigates the mechanisms of sickle cell disease, with a particular focus on sickle cell vasculopathy, or blood vessel disease. His group has been responsible for developing a scientific model to explain the development of this vasculopathy in sickle cell patients. In addition to blood vessel blockage and damage caused by the stiff sickle cells, he has shown that breakdown products of ruptured sickle cells, such as hemoglobin and arginase, reduce the availability of nitric oxide, a crucial regulator of blood vessel health. He is currently analyzing additional blood proteins using proteomic techniques to discover new pathways and biomarkers of sickle cell vasculopathy.
Research from Dr. Kato’s group and others has strongly suggested that sickle cell vasculopathy is associated with a greatly increased risk of pulmonary hypertension in sickle cell patients, which is linked to decreased longevity. In addition, previous and ongoing research is examining the association of vasculopathy with other sickle cell complications, including leg ulceration, chronic renal disease, stroke and priapism, a painful, persistent penile erection. With this knowledge, Dr. Kato’s group is conducting clinical drug trials aimed at treating pulmonary hypertension and other sickle cell complications, particularly with drugs that improve nitric oxide availability.
Prior to joining the NHLBI, Dr. Kato was an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University as well as the Division of Pediatric Oncology at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Dr. Kato earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1979 and his Doctor of Medicine from George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in 1985. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work at NIH and elsewhere, including a Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (1991), a Clinician Scientist Award from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1998) and an NHLBI Merit Award (2008).
Areas of expertise: sickle cell disease (adult and pediatric), pulmonary hypertension, vasculopathy
September 16, 1997
NHLBI to Announce Sickle Cell Clinical Alert at Press Conference
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) will hold a press conference on Thursday, September 18, 1997, at 10:00 a.m. to announce the results of an important clinical trial involving the prevention of strokes in children with sickle cell anemia.